This story from the Yale Daily News, which I wish were a hoax, but apparently is not, is possibly the most disturbing indicator I have seen of the degradation in the value of potential human life wrought by the pro-abortion movement. Yalie art major Aliza Shvarts (by her name, I am ashamed to say, apparently a fellow Jew) repeatedly inseminated herself over a nine-month period, and then took abortifacient drugs to induce miscarriages. Her senior art project will be an exhibition featuring video recordings of these forced miscarriages as well as preserved collections of the blood from the process. Shvarts stated that she believes it is the nature of her piece to "provoke inquiry."
"I believe strongly that art should be a medium for politics and ideologies, not just a commodity," Shvarts said. "I think that I'm creating a project that lives up to the standard of what art is supposed to be."
One would hope that the utter callousness and insensitivity toward potential human life displayed by Ms. Shvarts would give pause to most "pro-choice" advocates, if not to the most radical among them. In making that statement, I fully recognize that freedom to make a choice necessarily involves the freedom to abuse that right through irresponsible action. Yet some free choices have more serious social consequences than others. The degradation of society's perception of the value of potential human life is a very serious consequence indeed.
The seal of Yale University features the Hebrew words "Urim v'Tumim," which the seal translates into Latin as "truth and light." The Hebrew words in the Bible refer to the gemstones on the breast plate of the High Priest. During the era of prophecy, the nation of Israel would look to God for guidance by asking questions, and God would respond through lights shining in the Urim and Tumim. The Urim and Tumim were therefore understood by the founders of Yale University as the ultimate symbols of divine guiding light and truth. How sad that the ideals of this institution have been so trampled in the name of "inquiry."
Let me offer, as the Jewish counter examples to Ms. Shvarts, the Yale Five. These were five Orthodox Jewish freshman, men and women, who in October 1997, after months of fruitless negotiations with the University, filed a lawsuit challenging Yale's policy of requiring freshmen to live in co-ed dorms, or else pay a $7000 dorm fee. These students wanted only the option to live in single-sex apartments off campus, without paying the dorm fee, in order to avoid exposure to the standards of morality most recently exemplified by Ms. Shvarts. As their attorney, Nathan Lewin, wrote in a letter to the dean of Yale College:
"Their religious convictions forbid them from residing in dormitories that are readily accessible to members of the opposite sex for extended periods of time, including overnight visits. The experience of Yale students is that this is true of all Yale dormitories, including those that are designated `single sex....' The obligation to exercise care and modesty in living accommodations so as not to permit even inadvertent encounters between men and women is a long-standing rule of Jewish religious observance."
Yale refused this request, basing its position on its policy of encouraging on-campus life as an integral part of the Yale experience. Apparently the university viewed exposure to the sort of values that produced Ms. Shvarts' senior art project to be educationally essential for Yale freshmen.
In view of the recent brouhaha at Harvard over the institution of limited separate women's swimming hours instituted at a Harvard gymnatium pool at the request of Muslim women (an action by Harvard that, by the way, I support), it is interesting to speculate on how Yale would react today if the same request were made by Muslim students.
In any event, it appears that the modern Yale experience includes intentional serial insemination and abortion for the purposes of a senior art project.
This will be my last post before Pesach (Passover), which begins with the seder on Saturday night. In the Pesach Hagadah, the traditional seder ritual manual, we read about four iconic sons (children), the wise son, the wicked son, the simple son, and the son who is too young to ask questions. The Lubavitcher Rebbe, of blessed memory, quoted by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz in a discourse I once had the merit of hearing, always said that the seder is not complete unless the wicked son is also present. In that spirit, I wish all of my Jewish brothers and sisters a happy and kosher Pesach, including Ms. Svarts, who I hope finds her way to a seder. And to my Brother Hedgehog and my non-Jewish brothers and sisters, may you receive the blessings of the Passover festival as well.