During the 1960s, Dr. Boyd provided thousands of illegal abortions to women at his office in Athens, Texas, and later in Dallas. Of this period of his life, Boyd stated,
- "I thought the law needed to be changed, the service needed to be provided, and I was going to do it understanding the risk that I was taking, which may have included going to prison. That's the way a social activist needs to think. Deciding to disobey a law is not something you take lightly.
- The reason I did the work was what it meant to women. To have a child and not be married in a traditional community was difficult. Or to have a child that wasn't your husband's could be a very difficult situation. To be a woman fortunate enough to have gotten to a university and be pregnant and know that if you had this child, you were going to have to drop out of university and you might never get that college degree. These were strangers, women I'd never seen before and I'd never see again, and they were treated with respect, with dignity."
Clergy Consultation for Problem Pregnancies
Boyd worked closely with Clergy Consultation for Problem Pregnancies, a national organization dedicated to providing safe abortions and he was one of the first physicians to provide high quality, low cost outpatient procedures in the southwest.
National Abortion Federation
Boyd was involved in establishing the National Abortion Federation (NAF) and is a founding member of the Federation's Board of Directors. NAF serves as a forum for abortion service providers and others committed to providing quality abortion services so that they may be accessible to all women. In addition, Dr. Boyd's wife, Glenna Halvorson-Boyd has served on NAF's Board of directors and as NAF’s President for two years (1984-1986).
Southwestern Women's Options
Boyd works alongside Dr. Susan Robinson and Dr. Shelley Sella, both of whom formerly worked with Dr. George Tiller, performing abortions in all trimesters at the Southwestern Women's Options abortion clinic in Albuquerque. New Mexico. Dr. Susan Robinson and Dr. Shelley Sella are Board-Certified Ob/Gyns who specialize in third trimester abortion care.
Southwestern Women's Surgery Center
Dr. Boyd and Co-Director Glenna Halvorson-Boyd oversee the professional staff at Southwestern Women's Surgery Center in Dallas, TX. The physicians are all experienced specialists in abortion procedures. The staff includes registered nurses, and licensed vocational nurses, medical assistants, trained counselors and administrative personnel.
Fairmount Center abortion mill
Curtis Boyd founded the Fairmount Center abortion mill in 1973.
Death of Vanessa Preston
On January 22, 1980, Vanessa Preston, the 22-year-old wife of a local minister, went with her husband and small son to Fairmount Clinic in Dallas. Curtis Boyd performed a dilation and extraction abortion on her. During the abortion, Vanessa went into a grand mal seizure and then into cardiac arrest. Emergency procedures were immediately instituted. An ambulance was summoned, and Boyd and a nurse performed CPR and got Vanessa's heart to beat again. Before the ambulance arrived, Vanessa again went into cardiac arrest. Again, staff at Fairmount performed CPR. Paramedics and staff stabilized Vanessa for transport to the hospital.
About 40 minutes into exploratory surgery, trying to address a retained placenta and multiple vaginal punctures, Vanessa again went into cardiac arrest. She was given a total of 24 units of blood to try to keep her circulation entact despite her massive, unstoppable blood loss. For an hour and a half, hospital staff tried in vain to resuscitate Vanessa before finally pronouncing her dead.
An autopsy revealed that she had developed amniotic fluid embolism (AFE - amniotic fluid in the mother's bloodstream) and disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (DIC - a blood clotting disorder) during the abortion. This is what caused her cardiac arrest. When Boyd's staff resuscitated Vanessa, they caused a small laceration of her liver. This is typical in even properly performed CPR, and is not usually life-threatening. However, because of the DIC, Vanessa's blood couldn't clot, and she bled to death from the liver laceration. Since second-trimester evacuation abortions were still experimental at the time, Boyd and his staff didn't realize that there was a risk of DIC.
Boyd reported Vanessa's death to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He also wrote a medical journal article about her death, warning other abortionists that DIC could occur during second-trimester evacuation abortions.
Of the death Boyd stated,
- "This is the first death to one of our patients. It is tragic for her and for her family, and it is sad for us. We do know that abortion deaths have occured in the past, and they will occur in the future. In this medical procedure, as well as in other medical areas, that potential exists. We regret it when it occurs, and while the risk is small, we're doing all we can to make it even smaller."
Curtis Boyd does not have admitting privileges at a local hospital.
- Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health: Curtis Boyd (accessed on March 3, 2012)
- Southwestern Women's Options: About Us (accessed on March 5, 2012)
- Southwestern Women's Surgery Center: About Us (accessed on March 5, 2012)
- Dallas Morning News 1/24/80
- Dallas Morning News, 1/25/80
- American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 10/1/81
- Texas Autopsy Report No. 0190-80-0095
- Texas Death Certificate 07018