“Abortion Wars:” A Moral Choice

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Anson Stevens-Bollen

 

19 July 2017 |Joey Peters | The Santa Fe Reporter

“If Curtis Boyd lives by one professional mantra, it’s this: Unless a woman has full autonomy over her body, she lacks full citizenship and lives instead as a second-class citizen.

The controversial and celebrated abortion provider explains this thoughtfully on a hot, dry Fourth of July day in his Albuquerque office. A wiry man of 80 years, Boyd wears a gray surgical gown and says he’s working the holiday because the type of procedure that his clinic, Southwestern Women’s Options, is known for requires multiple days.

The clinic sits near I-25 on Lomas Boulevard, a crowded east-west thoroughfare on the edge of downtown Albuquerque. Across the street looms a pink billboard paid for by the group Prolife Across America. “Save the babies, heartbeat 18 days,” pleads the text. An infant’s chubby face peers out at passersby, a reminder of the ire against Southwestern Women’s Options even on days when no protesters show up.

Boyd speaks softly with a twinge of an accent that betrays the small east Texas town where he grew up. He sits on a leather chair in a corner room, away from where he and four other doctors perform surgical procedures.

A bookshelf includes dry medical encyclopedias and clinical contraception manuals, political titles and books that indicate his profession.

Boyd is a Christian; he says his spiritual background informs his work. Early in life, he was ordained as a Baptist minister. After medical school and residency, he became a Unitarian Universalist. In his medical practice, he chose to support women.

“Our role is to help her make a decision in the grace of God that she can live with,” Boyd tells SFR and NM Political Report in a rare, in-depth interview.

His work performing abortions stretches to the pre-Roe v. Wade days of the late 1960s, when he practiced illegally in the unwelcoming confines of small-town and big-city Texas. Pressure, real and perceived, from the law drove him away and into liberal Santa Fe, where a more tolerant citizenry welcomed his work in 1972, just a year before the Supreme Court granted abortion as a fundamental right.

Boyd soon repoened a clinic in Dallas and in 1985, opened an additional clinic in Albuquerque. The Santa Fe location closed in 1993.

Dr. Curtis Boyd, circa 1990, provided abortion services in Santa Fe between the ‘70s and ‘90s. He now runs clinics in Albuquerque and Dallas.
Edward Vidinghoff, Palace of the Governors Photo Archives

Boyd isn’t a typical abortion provider. Since 2010, his Albuquerque clinic has offered abortions for women during the third trimester of pregnancy, a procedure performed at only a handful of other clinics nationwide.

His practice draws an intense, emotional response from the anti-abortion community, making Southwestern Women’s Options one of the most scrutinized abortion clinics in the country and New Mexico ground zero in the abortion wars.

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