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:
  • "Investigation of Many Suspected Cases Under Say," Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, Apr. 29, 1932
  • "Abortion Ring", Time, Monday, May 9, 1932
  • "Dr. Thacker Is Sued For $10,000 Damages, Miami (OK) Daily News-Record, May 5, 1932
  • "Jail Osteopath, Seek Doctor in Co-eds' Deaths," Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette, Apr. 29, 1932
  • "Another Death Laid to Doctor," Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal, May 6, 1932

IsobelFergusonLouisvilleKYCourier-Journal6May1932.jpg

EisimingerThackerElmiraNYStar-Gazette29Apr1932.jpg

ThackerInvestigationOshkoshDailyNorthwestern29Apr1932.png



  1. 1900s
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  13. 20s
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  16. NAF
  17. abortifacient
  18. abortion
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  20. abortion mortality
  21. abortionists
  22. abortionists -- female
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  24. alabama
  25. anesthesia
  26. arizona
  27. black women
  28. born alive
  29. botched abortion
  30. california
  31. chicago
  32. colorado
  33. connecticut
  34. cover-up
  35. death
  36. deaths
  37. deception
  38. delay in transport
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  40. district of columbia
  41. dumped body
  42. ectopic
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  44. falsifying forms
  45. fetal indications
  46. florida
  47. former criminal abortionist
  48. george tiller
  49. georgia
  50. hemorrhage death
  51. hospitals
  52. illegal - doctor
  53. illegal - midwife
  54. illegal - nurse
  55. illegal - paramedical
  56. illegal - post roe
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  58. illegal - untrained
  59. illegal abortion
  60. illinois
  61. inadequate documents
  62. inadequate equipment
  63. inadequate resuscitation
  64. incomplete abortion
  65. indiana
  66. infection
  67. kansas
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  73. maternal mortality
  74. michigan
  75. mills
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  77. mortality
  78. national abortion federation
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  82. north carolina
  83. ohio
  84. oklahoma
  85. pennsylvania
  86. planned parenthood
  87. pre-roe legal
  88. previous misconduct
  89. prostaglandin
  90. quackery
  91. questionable stories
  92. ru-486
  93. rupture
  94. saline
  95. secret abortion
  96. self-induced
  97. suicide
  98. teens
  99. texas
  100. wisconsin