Pro-choice groups: Shvarts within her rights, but wrong

To the Editor:

Free speech invites counter-speech, so we, the members of the pro-choice community at Yale, are issuing this response to the actions of Aliza Shvarts ’08.

Although we stand by the right to reproductive freedom, we cannot approve of her approach and presentation. The facts concerning the controversy remain unclear, but the consequences are very real and must be addressed. Like most who have heard of these events, we are shocked by the content of the art piece in question and the manner in which very serious aspects of reproductive rights have been treated. We seek to protect the rights of real women and real families who deal with real issues of health, safety and access.

The reproductive-justice movement brings people from all walks of life together around the goal of improving the lives of women and families. We are dedicated to ensuring that comprehensive sexual education is available to all and that prenatal care, postnatal care, contraception and abortion services remain legal, available and free from coercion, discrimination and violence.

These are issues with serious impact on society as a whole. We have the utmost respect for those who have struggled with conception or made personal decisions about pregnancy and abortion, and we hope that this situation will not be used as an excuse to trivialize these subjects, but will rather bring to light their complexity and the seriousness with which we all must pursue the security of reproductive health and freedom.

The Executive Boards of the Reproductive Rights Action League at Yale (RALY) and the Yale Law Students for Reproductive Justice

April 20

Comments

  • Hieronymus

    "Although we stand by the right to reproductive freedom, we cannot approve of her approach and presentation."

    What an utterly impotent statement! "We cannot approve"?

    But you MUST "approve" a "woman's right to choose, without apology." In for a penny, friends, in for a pound.

  • mcb sy'08

    @#1: i do not necessarily see that by supporting the existence of a right, one must necessarily choose to support every message and form of the exercise of that right. for instance, i can and do unilaterally support the right to free speech while condemning certain speech acts as hateful, and normatively, rather than legally, inexcusable.

    furthermore, and this is an important point in RALY's letter: the right to choose, to use one's body as one will, is not a right canonized in american law. it is, in fact, quite precariousness. it is a perfectly reasonable argument to make that by using this right is such a way, aliza destabilizes it in the minds of many. (as i've said in other fora) by "exercising" her right in this way, she risks everyone else's. furthermore (and i understand that i am making an assumption about ms. shvarts here), should this right continue to be eroded, ms. shvarts, as a more affluent woman, will likely still have access to an abortion. not every woman will be so lucky.

    RALY is an important voice here, a champion of, as they put it, the REAL issues confronting REAL women, in contrast to a voice of a purely academic feminism so wrapped up in self-satisfied semiotic debate that it can't see to the bottom of its ivory tower to discern the real world effects of its "discourse".

    here's to realistic, productive feminism. well done, RALY.

  • D

    Where does the "woman's right to choose, without apology" quote come from? Couldn't find it in this article.

    The entire point of this statement seems to be that this is a complicated issue and that it is entirely possible to approve of the right to choose while disapproving of the Shvarts project.

    In for a penny, in for a dozen pennies, in for a pound. It's your *choice* and that's the whole point.

  • Mark Paquette

    Can anyone point me to the section in the Constitution of the United States of America where it mentions a woman's right to murder a baby? I might have one of the early drafts, but it would help me (seriously) to understand from where this right arises. It is my understanding that this was legislated, unconstitutionally, from the bench of the SCOTUS and, if actually voted one, would be abolished in a majority of the 'free' states of the union.

  • Hieronymus

    "A woman's right to choose is absolute"

    and

    "Pro-choice, No Apologies" are typical placards at any pro-abortion rally.

    For the record: Although I personally find the idea of killing a human embryo repugnant, I support a woman's right to choose.

  • CLAY

    CHOOSE LIFE AT YALE!

    We believe that Yale students, regardless of their views of abortion, were deeply disturbed by this trivialization of the agony of women who face crisis pregnancies and endure miscarriages. This episode offends every thinking person who grapples with the deeply polarizing moral issue of abortion. Most profoundly, it is a depraved but telling reflection of the disrespect for life that abortion has inevitably led to. Though this unfortunate matter may attract wide and unflattering attention to Yale, we hope, at the very least, it will also generate a thoughtful dialogue about the value of human life, and the fact that Aliza's project is only one logical and legal conclusion of the pro-choice position.

    Also, we are planning to hold a candlelight vigil on Wednesday, April 23rd, from 9-11 pm on Yale's cross campus.

  • ES06

    Random CLAY supporter, your post is a really absurd response to RALY's thoughtful letter. RALY expresses the same disapproval that you feel for the project, and you use the opportunity to promote a candlelight vigil in protest? What a non sequitur.

    RALY execs, good for you for standing up for common sense while CLAY tries to make Shvarts look like your average abortion patient and the Women's Center pretends that nothing wrong has happened.
    RALY, thanks for

  • @ES06

    No more than the Women's Center used the Zeta Psi incident to blackmail the university for more funding.

  • Mark

    Can anyone point me to the section in the Constitution of the United States of America where it mentions a woman's right to murder a baby? I might have one of the early drafts, but it would help me (seriously) to understand from where this right arises. It is my understanding that this was legislated, unconstitutionally, from the bench of the SCOTUS and, if actually voted one, would be abolished in a majority of the 'free' states of the union.

  • Mark

    Can anyone point me to the section in the Constitution of the United States of America where it mentions a woman's right to murder a baby? I might have one of the early drafts, but it would help me (seriously) to understand from where this right arises. It is my understanding that this was legislated, unconstitutionally, from the bench of the SCOTUS and, if actually voted one, would be abolished in a majority of the 'free' states of the union.
    Why won't a moderator post at least part of my question? Surely even Yale's law school should be able to respond to my query - you would answer the question for a lot of compassionate Americans.

  • Mark

    Thanks for posting my question - spelling errors and all. I am anxious to see an educated response to my first question.
    I hope I'm not derailing this thread, but the subject of this story is exactly the reason I am not a fan of 'abortion-on-demand', let alone with tax-payer funds (yes, I'm one of those middle-classers who is shouldering the burden, percentage-wise).

  • yls '09

    Mark: This answer is simplistic to the point of being slightly inaccurate, but here we go.

    People in the US start off with the right to do everything. The Constitution provides the federal gov't with certain limited powers, which it can use to pass laws that prevent people from doing things. The federal gov't does not have the power to prevent women from seeking and obtaining abortions.

    The states have broader powers, called police powers, which they can use to pass laws for the health, safety, welfare, and morality of their citizens. When the states joined together to form the United States, they lost some of these police powers (actually, this happened after the Civil War with the 14th Amendment, which applied the Bill of Rights against the state gov'ts in addition to the federal gov't).

    The Supreme Court has ruled that the states cannot interfere with the autonomous and private decisions of individuals in seeking and obtaining abortions, because this would violate the restrictions imposed upon their police powers by the federal Constitution. As things currently stand, in recent Supreme Court rulings (Casey, Carhart, etc.), states may place restrictions on access to abortions so long as they do not amount to an undue burden on a woman seeking an abortion. Further, late term abortions can be largely forbidden, except as necessary for the health of the mother. The federal gov't can also ban certain abortion procedures, so long as those procedures are never medically necessary.

    The Bill of Rights could be amended by a vote of 75% of the states. (the exact procedure is more complicated, but that's the simplification)

    Ultimately, the simple answer to your question is that there is no "right to abortion" in the US, there is merely a general right to be left alone (to keep the gov't out of your life) that encompasses some ability to obtain an abortion.

    However, Shvarts never sought or obtained an abortion. If her account is true, what she did was closer to taking a birth control pill. Significantly more dangerous, especially if she was taking something like pennyroyal, but, medically speaking, there was certainly never anything that could be termed a fetus, and there was almost certainly never a fertilized egg.

  • Mark Paquette

    YLS - Thanks for the response! Good luck in your endeavors!

  • Joe

    I think that woman should be charged with murder. If anything, all she has done is hurt the pro choice side and helped the anti-abortion side. She should be expelled.

  • Jack

    I think this woman is Jewish. I found an article about her on a "anti-semitic" website. She is making the Jewish people look very bad. Something which could have very negative repercussions for Jews everywhere.