SUMMARY: Curtis Boyd performed an abortion on 22-year-old Vanessa Preston at his Fairmount Clinic in Dallas, TX on January 22, 1980. She died later that day.

VanessaPrestonClarksvilleTXHS1974.jpgOn January 22, 1980, Vanessa Gill Preston, a 22-year-old worker at Mother Goose Day Care Center, went to Fairmont Clinic in Dallas for a safe, legal abortion. She was accompanied by her husband, Richard, a minister, and their small son, from their home in Paris, Texas.

At Fairmount, National Abortion Federation member Curtis Boyd performed a safe, legal dilation and extraction abortion on her. Boyd had started his abortion practice illegally in the 1960s, getting referrals from clergy members who took it upon themselves to connect women with doctors willing to perform abortions. Boyd said that each patient "came to my office and checked in like any other patient that saw me at my primary-care practice." Because of considerations for his wife and children, Boyd knew that maintaining a low profile outside the abortion referral network was key to remaining out of prison, "Complications were what could get you, the hospital would get suspicious. I had to learn to have a very low complication rate."

By the time Vanessa came to him, Boyd had perhaps 15 years under his belt as a practicing abortionist. His habit of striving for a low complication rate did not come through in this case. Vanessa suffered multiple punctures of her vagina during the procedure. Before Boyd could remove the placenta, Vanessa went into a grand mal seizure and then into cardiac arrest.

To the credit of Boyd and the Fairmount staff, emergency procedures were immediately instituted. They summoned an ambulance, and Boyd and a nurse performed CPR and got Vanessa's heart to beat again. But 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.

naflogo.jpgAbout 40 minutes into exploratory surgery, trying to address the retained placenta and vaginal punctures, Vanessa again went into cardiac arrest. She was given a total of 24 units of blood to try to keep her circulation intact 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 new (read "experimental") at the time, Boyd and his staff didn't realize that there was a risk of DIC.

VanessaPrestonParisTXHS1973.pngBoyd, to his credit, reported Vanessa's death to the Centers for Disease Control. He also wrote a medical journal article about her death, warning other abortionists that DIC could occur during second-trimester evacuation abortions.

Another of Boyd's patients, 23-year-old Keisha Atkins, died in 2017 from complications of DIC after a late abortion at his Southwest Women's Options in New Mexico.

  • "Abortion Patient Dies After Seizure," Dallas Morning News 1/24/80,
  • "Report clears clinic in abortion death," 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




  1. 1900s
  2. 1910-1919
  3. 1920s
  4. 1930s
  5. 1940s
  6. 1950s
  7. 1960s
  8. 1970s
  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