Sunday, April 25, 2010

1932: Fatal abortion reveals secret marriage

Dr. Richard E. Thacker, an osteopath, maintained an office and operating rooms in the Terminal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Thacker testified that he met Frank Lee, a University of Oklahoma football player, some time about noon Saturday, April 23, 1932. Frank, Thacker said, reported that his wife, Nancy Joe, had chronic appendicitis, and had had it for a long time; he brought his wife to the office about 2 o'clock that afternoon.

Frank and Nancy were keeping the marriage secret, which might have been at least part of why they sought an abortion.

I treated her by putting a sedative into the vagina and had her take a laxative; I directed him to take her some place for observation, a hospital or a nurse; the purpose of this suppository or sedative tampon was intended to relieve the pain, and I followed it up with gauze, as it was literally necessary for something to retain it in the vagina; I did not examine her uterus; I never saw her after that time; I gave him the number of a place he could take her where the expense would be reasonable. I did not perform an abortion on Mrs. Lee.

But 17-year-old Nancy was taken to Oklahoma City General Hospital, near death. Before dying, Nancy said that Thacker had performed an abortion on her.

For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion

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