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
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Edel Irrat Reas DecoFr Paper.jpg
Edel Irrat Reas DecoFr Paper.jpg (700.68 KiB) Viewed 129 times
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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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