Saturday, April 24, 2010

A string of deaths in the 1930s attributed to Oklahoma doc

Dr. Richard E. Thacker maintained an office and operating rooms in the Terminal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. His trial for the abortion death of Ruth Hall brough out testimony concerning the deaths of other patients, including Robbie Lou Thompson, Nancy Lee, and Lennis May Roach, who died April 24, 1932.

Mrs. Roach had come to Thacker's office several times, he admitted. Thacker said that Mrs. Roach was in poor health and emaciated, and had a white discharge, indicative of infection, from her vagina. She also, Thacker said, had pains in her abdomen.

Thacker said that he treated her with a tonic and with antiseptic tampons.

He adamently denied that he had performed an abortion on her. However, other witnessed testified during Thacker's trial for the abortion/murder of Ruth Hall, that Thacker had indeed performed an abortion on Mrs. Roach, causing her death. More specifically, Lennis May's husband, F.S. Roach, told the county attorney that Thacker had performed an abortion on her.

The same day that Lennis May died under Thacker's care, Virginia Wyckoff, a University of Oklahoma student, age 21, died from complications of an abortion under the care of Dr. J.W. Eisiminger.

Eisiminger, an osteopath, was tried and convicted of murder in Virginia's death. He admitted to having treated her in his office on April 3, but said that he didn't believe she was pregnant. Nevertheless, Virginia spent several days in a privat home where Eisiminger kept recovering aboriton patients under the care of Mrs. Luther Bryant Price. Dr. Thacker also used Mrs. Price's home as a recovery center for his abortion patients.

Virginia was transferred from Mrs. Prices's home to a hospital, where she died, first having told doctors there taht Eisiminger had performed the fatal abortion.. A deathbed statement absolving Eisiminger was proven to be a forgery.

Eisiminger was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to murder in her abortion death. The sentence was later reduced to 15 years.

Eisiminger also got in trouble when allegations arose that his wife, Marie, paid a bribe to try to secure his release.

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

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