Dr. 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.

Dr. 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





  1. 1900s
  2. 1910-1919
  3. 1920s
  4. 1930s
  5. 1940s
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  9. 1980s
  10. 1990s
  11. 19th century
  12. 2000-2009
  13. 20s
  14. 30s
  15. 40s
  16. NAF
  17. abortifacient
  18. abortion
  19. abortion mill
  20. abortion mortality
  21. abortionists
  22. abortionists -- female
  23. abortionists -- male
  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
  39. delay in treatment
  40. district of columbia
  41. dumped body
  42. ectopic
  43. embolism
  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
  57. illegal - unknown
  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
  68. llinois
  69. louisiana
  70. maryland
  71. massachusetts
  72. maternal indications
  73. maternal mortality
  74. michigan
  75. mills
  76. missouri
  77. mortality
  78. national abortion federation
  79. new jersey
  80. new mexico
  81. new york
  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

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