Isobel Ferguson #1930s #oklahoma #illegaldoctor #20s

On April 14, 1932, 21-year-old Mrs. Isabelle F. Ferguson died of suspected abortion complications. Two physicians in the University of Oklahoma area, J. W. Eisiminger and Richard E. Thacker, were suspected in the case.

Isabelle's husband, S. E. Ferguson, sued Thacker for $10,000 in damages, indicating that Thacker was probably the perpetrator. Mr. Ferguson alleged that when Isabell suffered complications, Thacker prevented her from going to a hospital.

thacker.png
Dr. Richard Thacker

Thacker and Eisiminger were not ordinary doctors who just did abortions on a few patients. They were abortionists, and quack abortionists at that. Singly or as a pair they were implicated in a string of deaths uncovered largely due to suspicions raised by incompletely filled-out death certificates:

Feb. 26, 1929: Marie Epperson (Thacker suspected)
Mar. 19, 1932: Geraldine Easley (Thacker suspected)
Apr. 3, 1932: Ethel Hestland (Thacker suspected)
Apr. 15, 1932: Ruth Hall (Thacker convicted of murder)
Apr. 23, 1932: Robbie Lou Thompson (Evidence used in Ruth Hall case)
Apr. 24, 1932: Lennis May Roach (Evidence used in Ruth Hall case)
Apr. 25, 1932: Nancy Joe Lee (Evidence used in Ruth Hall case)


Thacker was sentenced to life in prison for Ruth Hall's death. His attorney announced an immediate motion for an appeal, on the grounds that Thacker's other abortions should not have been admitted as testimony.[3]

A practical nurse, Mrs. Luther Bryant Price, operated a private sanitarium in the Oklahoma City area. She told the County Attorney that several young women had come to the sanitarium for treatment after being injured by Thacker, but insisted that the abortions had not been perpetrated on-site.[1]


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

IsabelleFergusinMiamiOKDailyNewsRecord5May1932.pngSources:

IsobelFergusonLouisvilleKYCourier-Journal6May1932.jpg

EisimingerThackerElmiraNYStar-Gazette29Apr1932.jpg

ThackerInvestigationOshkoshDailyNorthwestern29Apr1932.png



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