The End of Roe v. Wade (1973)

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The End of Roe v. Wade (1973)

Post by billd89 »

This is not a political post (but of course, it is), rather I am addressing detail of a Current Event: the End of Roe, that (in)famous Supreme Court case which legalized abortion in the USA. My interest here is in the footnotes, given below.

As some Forum readers may know from my posts, my focus has been a brief research project carried out at the Johns Hopkins Institute for the History of Medicine in Baltimore MD, 1938. A small circle of (primarily) Hopkins scholars were assigned a timely task by Dr. Henry Sigerist - call them 'the Anonymous Authors' - and two German-Jewish PhD Classicists/Philologists, Emma and Ludwig Edelstein (jointly: "Ludwig Edelstein") led this writers' pool of 4-6 individuals.

So I come to Ludwig Edelstein: a student/acolyte of Pythagorean expert Dr. Erich Frank. Edelstein had already gained esteem in Germany during the early 1930s for his revolutionary insights on the Hippocratic Oath. What does this have to do with Abortion Rights and Roe v. Wade? Read the complete text of the US Supreme Court ruling. Please note that Prof. Edelstein had died 9 years before Roe's finalization; I think this speaks to his stature even then. (He is largely forgotten now: I hope to change that.)

Excerpt from Roe v. Wade (1973):
Although the Oath is not mentioned in any of the principal briefs in this case or in Doe v. Bolton, post, p. 179, it represents the apex of the development of strict ethical concepts in medicine, and its influence endures to this day. Why did not the authority of Hippocrates dissuade abortion practice in his time and that of Rome? The late Dr. Edelstein provides us with a theory: [n16] The Oath was not uncontested even in Hippocrates' day; only the Pythagorean school of philosophers frowned upon the related act of suicide. Most Greek thinkers, on the other hand, commended abortion, at least prior to viability. See Plato, Republic, V, 461; Aristotle, Politics, VII, 1335b 25. For the Pythagoreans, however, it was a matter of dogma. For them, the embryo was animate from the moment of conception, and abortion meant destruction of a living being. The abortion clause of the Oath, therefore, "echoes Pythagorean doctrines," [p132] and "in no other stratum of Greek opinion were such views held or proposed in the same spirit of uncompromising austerity." [n17]

Dr. Edelstein then concludes that the Oath originated in a group representing only a small segment of Greek opinion, and that it certainly was not accepted by all ancient physicians. He points out that medical writings down to Galen (A.D. 130-200) "give evidence of the violation of almost every one of its injunctions." [n18] But with the end of antiquity, a decided change took place. Resistance against suicide and against abortion became common. The Oath came to be popular. The emerging teachings of Christianity were in agreement with the Pythagorean ethic. The Oath "became the nucleus of all medical ethics," and "was applauded as the embodiment of truth." Thus, suggests Dr. Edelstein, it is "a Pythagorean manifesto, and not the expression of an absolute standard of medical conduct." [n19]

This, it seems to us, is a satisfactory and acceptable explanation of the Hippocratic Oath's apparent rigidity. It enables us to understand, in historical context, a long-accepted and revered statement of medical ethics.

10. L. Edelstein, "The Hippocratic Oath" (1943) (hereinafter Edelstein). But see Castiglioni 227.

11. Edelstein 12; Ricci 113-114, 118-119; Noonan 5.

12. Edelstein 13-14

15. Edelstein 3.

16.Id. at 12, 15-18.

17.Id. at 18; Lader 76.

18. Edelstein 63.

19.Id. at 64.

56. Edelstein 16.

Quite apart from Roe, but to copy that paraphrase: Dr. Edelstein' own 1938 work became the nucleus for 20th C. psycho-spiritual recovery, applauded as the embodiment of truth, a Judeo-Pythagorean textbook for Therapeutic healing - millions of lives were thereby saved.

L. Edelstein (1902-1965) is standing, 3rd from left-center of 2nd row. Dr. John Rathbone Oliver (1872-1943) "The Doctor's Opinion" and Dr. Otto Neustätter (1871-1943) "More About ..." (??) are also pictured here.
Institute 1939.jpg
Institute 1939.jpg (319.31 KiB) Viewed 11905 times
Edel Irrat Reas DecoFr Paper.jpg
Edel Irrat Reas DecoFr Paper.jpg (700.68 KiB) Viewed 11899 times
Last edited by billd89 on Sun Jun 26, 2022 8:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Leucius Charinus
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Re: The End of Roe v. Wade (1973)

Post by Leucius Charinus »

billd89 wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 6:17 am Please note that Prof. Edelstein had died 9 years before Roe's finalization; I think this speaks to his stature even then. (He is largely forgotten now: I hope to change that.)
Interesting material here and elsewhere about the Edelstein's research.

ETA: About the politics of the war on wombs.

Frank Zappa apparently said that “Politics is the entertainment division of the military industrial complex.”
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Re: The End of Roe v. Wade (1973)

Post by John T »

The Hippocratic oath:

I swear by Apollo Healer, by Asclepius, by Hygieia, by Panacea, and by all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will carry out, according to my ability and judgment, this oath and this indenture.

To hold my teacher in this art equal to my own parents; to make him partner in my livelihood; when he is in need of money to share mine with him; to consider his family as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they want to learn it, without fee or indenture; to impart precept, oral instruction, and all other instruction to my own sons, the sons of my teacher, and to indentured pupils who have taken the Healer’s oath, but to nobody else.

I will use those dietary regimens which will benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgment, and I will do no harm or injustice to them.[6] Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course. Similarly I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion. But I will keep pure and holy both my life and my art. I will not use the knife, not even, verily, on sufferers from stone, but I will give place to such as are craftsmen therein.

Into whatsoever houses I enter, I will enter to help the sick, and I will abstain from all intentional wrong-doing and harm, especially from abusing the bodies of man or woman, bond or free. And whatsoever I shall see or hear in the course of my profession, as well as outside my profession in my intercourse with men, if it be what should not be published abroad, I will never divulge, holding such things to be holy secrets.

Bold italics and underline, mine for emphasis.

How can one who does not condemn left-wing terrorists that fire bomb pro-life groups say she is anti-abortion?

Your hypocrisy has once again exposed you as the fraud you are.

Sad, so sad.
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Thesis: Edelstein's Perspective was "Religious"

Post by billd89 »

I might wonder how accurate a colleague's (i.e. your boss') opinion would be -- someone who had worked with you, side-by-side, for 12 years -- for whatever petty biases naturally arise in the workplace. Dr. Henry Sigerist (a medical doctor and historian) had met Dr. Ludwig Edelstein, Ph.D. (historian, philosopher) in 1930, so his personal take on Edelstein was actually formed over more than 17 years. How do we evaluate this: do we discount some intellectual back-stabbing as petty aside -- inaccurate conclusion, otherwise misleading about another's character? I have not been able to find anything to corroborate Sigerist's view of his then-employee: it may be an outlier opinion in any case, but the Ackerknecht-Sigerist exchange shows agreement on another colleague's perspective. Again: I find NOTHING to support the claim that Edelstein was 'religious' as a Jew or anything else, either denominational or 'spiritual.' And this frustrating point bears great weight on my analysis of the Edelsteins' 1938 project.

Outside Fact:
It should be noted that Henry Sigerist was a 'fellow traveler' of Soviet Communism since the mid-1930s, and his own orientation reads 'Communist.' He may really be saying that Edelstein is traditional/ conservative or mainstream/moralistic. That is merely one possible (overly simplistic?) projection of Sigerist's unstated meaning, however.

Outside Fact:
While disagreement w/ President of Johns Hopkins Isaiah Bowman may be one factor in Edelstein's decision to leave Hopkins in 1947, Sigerist's mild disdain (expressed on this date, in early 1947) might have been another. If your boss dislikes you, if there is friction in the workplace, you move on. Of course, we cannot know what was really happening in their office from this meagre evidence.

Background Note:
Erwin Heinz Ackerknecht (1906-88) was a young/former Bolshevist-Leninist-Trotskyite who later became a medical historian; he fled Nazi Germany for France, then to the USA. Since he was at Johns Hopkins working under Henry Sigerist (1941-5), he was another colleague of L. Edelstein. His observations are reflections on L. Edelstein's "older" German and US work on Hippocratic medicine, presumably 1933-41?, in discussion with a former employer and fellow colleague. Ackerknecht's opening "definite opinion" request to "know more" has Sigerist respond frankly about Edelstein, his then-employee. Perhaps Sigerist already knew that Edelstein was departing Hopkins that summer for the University of Seattle, with minor animosity on either side? By inference (from the letter) Ackerknecht knew also, and probably took this opportunity to get a frank appraisal or gossip.

So the question is: did Sigerist offer a correct judgment of Edelstein's outlook, here?

ACKERKNECHT to SIGERIST, Madison, 7 February 1947
Dear Henry: Could you please send me the Address of Artelt and your definite opinion of him. [...] Among other things, I went over Edelstein's old articles. I feel he over-does a little bit the religious side of the hippocratic physician. [...]

SIGERIST to ACKERKNECHT, Baltimore? 14 February 1947
I quite agree with you about Edelstein's interpretation of Hippocratic medicine. He is a highly religious individual who finds religion everywhere. You were not here when we gave the Graduate week on the Renaissance. In a one-hour lecture, I discussed the primitive accumulation of capital toward the end of the Middle Ages, the increased demand for metals caused by the introduction of fire-arms, the demand for gold as a result of increased trade, the search for gold that started voyages of discovery etc. etc. and then Edelstein spoke for an hour to prove that the Renaissance was a purely religious movement.

Very clearly, Sigerist is generalizing about L. Edelstein -- well-beyond his Hippocratic interpretation -- but also providing a specific example* which can be precisely dated to the April 24-29, 1939 Graduate Week: seven years prior. On this basis alone, 'religiosity' is neither a sudden development nor a gradual shift in his colleague's outlook, but rather -- condemning -- a key feature of Edelstein's mind-set and something evident and disdainful to Dr. Sigerist by at least early 1939.

Restated: "I quite agree with you about Edelstein's interpretation of Hippocratic medicine; {MOREOVER, or IN FACT} he is a highly religious individual who finds religion everywhere." In Dr. Sigerist's blanket judgment, Prof. Ludwig Edelstein was "highly religious" and interpreting everything "religiously" in the 1930s. Logically, we may extend that to the 1940s; if Edelstein had changed, that would have been noted.

* Incidentally, Edelstein's paper was "Ancient Traditions in Medieval and Renaissance Thought" (I have not found it) which suggests a distinct connection to Theodor Mommsen, who taught at Johns Hopkins 1936-8; Emma Edelstein (his former student, and devoted friend) has been described as "his Beatrice". My point here: topically, this particular "religious" paper is probably (largely) her research, not Ludwig's, and an homage of sorts to her recently departed friend. While Ludwig must still be credited or faulted for his delivery of their work, it is imperative to discern which scholar is the "religious" one -- if there is a difference. Mr. or Mrs.?

Reborn through Asclepius? In contrast with her husband, there's quite a bit of information to suggest Emma was 'spiritual, but not religious' (in the anachronistic, Late 20th C. phrasing). Since they wrote as a husband-wife team, it seems impossible to know which was the more religious scholar in the joint composition of their major works.
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