Glenda Coe #1950s #oklahoma #illegalunknown

SUMMARY: "Glenda Coe," age 31, died September 18, 1958 after an abortion by an unknown perpetrator in Norman, OK.

At around 8:00 on the evening of September 17, 1958, 31-year-old "Glenda Coe" (named changed at request of family) and her four daughters got ready for bed. The girls retired for the night.

The eldest girl, 12 years old, awoke at around 1:00 on the morning of September 18, 1958, and went to the master bedroom to find her mother dead. Before her death, Glenda had changed out of her nightclothes and into street clothes.

At first, authorities suspected either natural death or a suicide. However, all evidence indicated that Glenda, a waitress, had been in good health before her death. An autopsy found that Glenda had died due to air bubbles in her bloodstream, and that she had been pregnant at the time of her death. A more careful examination determined that Glenda had died from an abortion attempt.

Glenda and her ex-husband, 34-year-old James Paul Morton, had been divorced for several years. James was arrested for questioning. Witnesses said they had seen him at Glenda's home the night before her death. He was released after four days, though authorities declined to tell the press if he had been cleared or not.

During the 1950s, we see an anomaly: Though maternal mortality had been falling during the first half of the 20th Century, and abortion mortality in particular had been plummeting, the downward trend slowed, then reversed itself briefly. I have yet to figure out why. For more, see Abortion Deaths in the 1950's.

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

Sources:

GlendaCoeMiamiOKDailyNews18Sept1958.png


GlendaCoeMiamiOKNewsRecord19Sep1958.png


GlendaCoeMiamiOKDailyNewsRecord23Sep1958.png


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