Jelly, jelly so fine

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

American as apple pie

In the leaked draft overturning Roe v. Wade, Samuel Alito said that “The inescapable conclusion is that a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions.” 

This is hogwash of course. No less a founding patriot as Benjamin Franklin wrote a missive on women's health in Philadelphia in 1748 that included a "how to" home abortifacient.

The pamphlet  was titled "The Instructor" and written under the pseudonym George Fisher. 

It included primers on the alphabet, recipes, common mathematics, hoof care for horses, names of American cities and colonial history amongst other topics. 

And it was not the first such book to include a home abortion remedy, William Mather's Young Man's Companion also had one back in 1699.

Franklin recommended mustard, horseradish, nutmeg, garden cress chased with beer brewed with sorrel leaves.

It also recommends angelica, an herb used for abortions for thousands of years, highland flagg and pennyroyal water.

Abortion goes back far in man's history, the first abortions reported in Egypt in 1550 b.c.e. in the Ebers Papyrus. They were mentioned favorably later by both Plato and Aristophanes. They have been mentioned in sanskrit texts back in the eighth century.

The bible clearly discriminates between the life of the fetus and a born human being. In Exodus 21:22-25 a pregnant woman becomes involved in a brawl between 2 men and has a miscarriage. A distinction is then made between the penalty that is to be exacted for the loss of the fetus and injury to the woman. For the fetus, a fine is paid as determined by the husband and the judges. However, if the woman is injured or dies, "lex talionis" is applied -- life for life, eye for eye, etc.

The Talmud explains that for the first 40 days of a woman’s pregnancy, the fetus is considered “mere fluid” and considered part of the mother until birth. The baby is considered a nefesh – Hebrew for “soul” or “spirit” – once its head has emerged, and not before. 

The Hebrews, whose religion was the basis for both Christianity and Islam, believed that a person became a human when they drew their first breath.

Interestingly, abortions were also once held normal by early Christian theologians and thinkers.

Tertullian, a 2nd- and 3rd-century Christian theologian, described surgical implements which were used in a procedure similar to the modern dilation and evacuation. One tool had a "nicely adjusted flexible frame" used for dilation, an "annular blade" used to curette, and a "blunted or covered hook" used for extraction. The other was a "copper needle or spike". He attributed ownership of such items to Hippocrates, Asclepiades, Erasistratus, Herophilus, and Soranus.

Aulus Cornelius Celsus, a 1st-century Roman encyclopedist, offered an extremely detailed account of a procedure to extract an already-dead fetus in his only surviving work, De Medicina. In Book 9 of Refutation of all HeresiesHippolytus of Rome, another Christian theologian of the 3rd century, wrote of women tightly binding themselves around the middle so as to "expel what was being conceived".

Methinks Judge Alito needs to reread his history.

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