Robbie Lou Thompson

Robbie Lou Thompsonoklahoma, 1930s, infectionDr. Richard E. Thackerwas prosecuted for the April 23, 1932 abortion death of 21-year-old telegraph worker Robbie Lou Thompson in Oklahoma City. Robbie Lou died of sepsis.

thacker.pngDr. Richard Thacker
Thacker fled the state, leading to a manhunt that finally located him in Springdale, Arkansas.[1]

Thacker testified that Marvin Erdman came with Robbie Lou to his office to consult him. He said that she was “in a rather serious condition” and that he advised Erdman to take Robbie Lou to the hospital right away.

Thacker said that Erdman and Robbie Lou left his office, and that at about midnight he got a call from Erdman, who wanted Thacker to meet them at the home of Mrs. Moore. When he arrived there, Thacker said, Erdman told him that Robbie Lou had died on the way to the hospital and that he wanted Thacker to make out a death certificate. “He prevailed on me to falsify that a little bit in order to protect her; I made out the certificate showing she died from acute gastritis. I was never paid for my services. I did not operate on Miss Thompson.”

Erdman testified in the trial that he had indeed taken Robbie Lou to Thacker, who had charged him $50 for the abortion.

In his trial for Ruth Hall’s death, and over Thacker’s understandable objections, the court permitted a number of witnesses to testify that after Ruth’s visit to his practice, Thacker had performed fatal abortions on Robbie Lou, as well as on Lennis May Roach and Nancy Joe Seay Lee. The witnesses went into detail about the events, up to and including the death of each of them.

Thacker had been a physician in the army before taking up his career as an abortionist. A practical nurse, Mrs. Luther Bryant Pierce, operated a private sanitarium in the Oklahoma City area and said that though she did not allow Thacker to perpetrate abortions at her facility, she did provide aftercare for them at her site.

Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1930s.

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


  • New York Times; “Abortion Ring”,
  • Time, Monday, 9 May, 1932;
  • Thacker v State. 1933 OK CR 119. 26 P.2d 770. 55 Okl.Cr. 161. Decided: 10/27/1933. Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeal,
  • “Osteopath Held in Oklahoma Deaths,” Appleton Post Crescent, Apr. 19, 1932;
  • “Doctor Faces Murder Trial,” Reno Evening Gazette, Nov. 21, 1932;
  • “Doctor Faces Life in Prison,” Reno Evening Gazette, Nov. 24, 1932;
  • “Physician Held on Grave Charge,” Helena Independent, Aug. 24, 1932;
  • “Co-Ed Deaths At College Open Investigation,” Mexia (TX) Weekly Herald, Apr. 29, 1932
  • “Thacker Held Without Bond,” Abilene Morning News, Jul. 22, 1932
  • “Illegal Surgery Kills Seven Girls,” Asbury Park (NJ) Press, Apr. 29, 1932
  • “Jail Osteopath, Seek Doctor in Co-eds’ Deaths,” Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette, Apr. 29, 1932
  • “Thacker Held Without Bond,” Abilene (TX) Reporter-News, July 22, 1932
  • “Osteopath Faces Charge of Murder,” Newport News (VA) Daily Press, Apr. 29, 1932





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  92. ru-486
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  95. secret abortion
  96. self-induced
  97. suicide
  98. teens
  99. texas
  100. wisconsin

  1. ^ “Thacker Held Without Bond,” Abilene Morning News, Jul. 22, 1932