SUMMARY: Elizabeth Staley, age 22, died March 6, 1967 after an abortion perpetrated in Olympia, Washington by her husband and a friend.

Elizabeth Zack worked in a Centralia drive-in theater. She had married 22-year-old Ronald Staley less than two months earlier, not long after discovering she was pregnant. For reasons now unknown they decided to end her pregnancy with the help of a 19 year-old friend, Donelle Hulse, who evidently had some experience inducing abortions and at whose house the fatal operation took place.

Elizabeth suffered an air embolism and died as her husband rushed her to the hospital. Ronald Staley and Hulse were arrested on manslaughter charges. The two defendants blamed each other and Hulse decided to plead guilty on the eve of the trial. Staley was convicted after a trial that was followed closely in the Daily Olympian. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. No word on what sentence Hulse received. Elizabeth Zack Staley was buried in Centralia.
-- "When Abortion was Illegal (and Deadly): Seattle's Maternal Death Toll," Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project

The Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project -- unlike most abortion-rights publications -- actually cites specific sources for their stories of illegal abortion deaths. For the death of Elizabeth Staley, they cite the Daily Olympian (March 8 & 9 and May 3 & 4, 1967) and the Seattle Times (May 5 & 6 and July 18, 1967). They also include a clipping from the March 8 Daily Olympian, "Manslaughter, Abortion Charges Filed Here In Young Wife's Death."


The clipping notes that the investigation into Elizabeth's death had begun on March 6, a Monday, when Ronald showed up at St. Peter Hospital with his wife's lifeless body. County Coroner Hollis Fultz began in investigation beginning with an autopsy, showing that Elizabeth, who had been about four months pregnant, had suffered an air embolism (air in her blood stream) during the abortion.

Elizabeth and Ronald had been married on January 12 by a justice of the peace but had been maintaining separate residences at the time of her death.

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