Catherine Barnard1960s, 30s, colorado, illegaldoctorSUMMARY: Catherine Barnard, age 35, died on April 6, 1969 after an abortion perpetrated in Oklahoma City by Dr. Virgil Jobe.
On April 6, 1969, 35-year-old Mrs. Catherine Laureen Barnard of Arvada, Colorado, flew from her home to Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City, and evidently took a taxi to the office of 67-year-old Dr. Virgil Roy Jobe. A cab driver testified that he’d picked Catherine up at Jobe’s office and taken her to the airport, but she ended up instead at South Community Hospital. There, doctors found her gravely ill from a punctured uterus and small intestine. They told her prior to surgery that they needed to know what had happened to her, and she told them Jobe had perpetrated an abortion. A judge had to rule whether or not Catherine knew she was dying when she confessed to the doctors so that he could decide if her statement was a legally admissible deathbed statement, or inadmissible hearsay.
There was, however, other evidence that pointed to Jobe, including two prescriptions written by Jobe — one for cold medicine and one for pain medicine — both in Catherine’s purse, along with her plane ticket and a paper with Jobe’s office address and phone number written on it.
Around 40 women, identified as abortion patients from Jobe’s records, were questioned about his practice, and offered immunity in exchange for their testimony about Jobe’s practice. A mother who brought her 17-year-old daughter to Jobe for an abortion said he obviously ran a busy abortion practice, since when they arrived at his practice two women were waiting outside in cars, another was trying to get in through the back door, and others were waiting inside. She had paid $100 for the abortion. Jobe took her daughter into the exam room to do the abortion and, as I have often seen in legal abortion cases, he responded to the girl’s screams by telling the other to “shut her up” so that people outside the room wouldn’t hear her.
Jobe, who was later also charged with performing an abortion on the 17-year-old Oklahoma girl, was convicted in Catherine’s death. However, somehow after his conviction the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor negligent homicide charge and Jobe was freed after paying a $1,000 fine.
An Oklahoma woman, Mrs. Judy Gaye Wells, faced charges as an accessory after the fact for eluding police and withholding information. Wells herself was charged with availing herself of Jobe’s services for an abortion, which I find interesting because this is the first case I’d encountered in which the woman undergoing the abortion was also charged. Jobe’s office assistant, Mrs. Dorothy Ellen Whitten, was also charged with murder for Catherine’s death.
Jobe was sentenced to five years in prison for the Oklahoma girl’s abortion , but was out on appeal in 1972 when he was charged in federal court with unlawful distribution of amphetamines, which is not unusual. Many abortionists, both legal and illegal, also ran afoul of authorities for running pill mills. Jobe would see as many as 100 to 125 patients a day in his office, prescribing the narcotics for weight loss without even performing examinations.
Jobe lost his appeal on the abortion death and went to prison, but like many other abortionists who had killed patients, he leveraged the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision into a retroactive declaration that the abortion that had killed Catherine was legal. No sooner was he freed, though, when he was sent back to prison on the drug charges.
Catherine’s abortion was typical of criminal abortions in that it was performed by a physician.
In the 1960s, we see the 20th Century downward trend in abortion mortality resumed — until a brief upturn starting in 1968, when some states first started loosening their abortion laws. For more, see Abortion Deaths in the 1960’s.
For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion.
- Rocky Mountain News Apr. 9, 1969;
- “Charge on a Doctor,” Kansas City (MO) Times, Apr. 10, 1969
- “Did Patient Know? Case Against Doctor Hangs on Question,” The Corpus Christi (TX) Times, Jun. 18, 1969
- “Oklahoma’s Abortion Law To Be Challenged,” Lawton (OK) Constitution, Apr. 7, 1970
- “Woman Testifies Many Waiting For Abortions,” Abilene (TX) Reporter-News, Jun. 20, 1969
- “Dr. Jobe Guilty, Draws 5-Year Abortion Term”, The Oklahoman, Oct. 25, 1969; obituary
- “Oklahoma Coed Faces Charges,” The Lawton (OK) Constitution, Feb. 12, 1970
- “Officers Testify Against Doctor,” Lawton (OK) Constitution, Dec. 19, 1972
- AP snippet in Lawton (OK) Constitution, Feb. 8, 1973
- “Two Are Freed In Abortion Case,” Abilene (TX) Reporter, Feb. 9, 1973
- United Staes v. Virgil R. Jobe, M.D., 487 F.2d 268 (10th Cir. 1973)
- 19th century
- abortion mill
- abortion mortality
- abortionists — female
- abortionists — male
- black women
- botched abortion
- delay in transport
- delay in treatment
- district of columbia
- dumped body
- falsifying forms
- fetal indications
- former criminal abortionist
- george tiller
- hemorrhage death
- illegal – doctor
- illegal – midwife
- illegal – nurse
- illegal – paramedical
- illegal – post roe
- illegal – unknown
- illegal – untrained
- illegal abortion
- inadequate documents
- inadequate equipment
- inadequate resuscitation
- incomplete abortion
- legal abortion
- maternal indications
- maternal mortality
- national abortion federation
- new jersey
- new mexico
- new york
- north carolina
- planned parenthood
- pre-roe legal
- previous misconduct
- questionable stories
- secret abortion
- ^ “Did Patient Know? Case Against Doctor Hangs on Question,” The Corpus Christi (TX) Times, Jun. 18, 1969
- ^ “Jobe ‘Patients’ May Be Called,” The Lawton (OK) Constitution, Aug. 7, 1969
- ^ “Abortionist’s Murder Charged Reduced,” The Lawton (OK) Constitution, Dec. 17, 1970.
- ^ “Oklahoma Coed Faces Charges, The Lawton (OK) Times, Feb. 12, 1979
- ^ “Abortion Trial Set for Doctor,” The Lawton (OK) Constitution, Jun. 20, 1969
- ^ “Jobe Lawyer Eyes Change of Venue,” The Lawton (OK) Constitution, Nov. 29, 1972