We Choose To: A Memoir of Providing Abortion Care Before, During, and After Roe (Paperback)

We Choose To: A Memoir of Providing Abortion Care Before, During, and After Roe By Dr. Curtis Boyd, MD, Dr. Glenna Halvorson-Boyd, PhD, RN Cover Image

We Choose To: A Memoir of Providing Abortion Care Before, During, and After Roe (Paperback)


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Although the Dallas Fire Department had saved the clinic, we were shaken and heartsick that our son had just spent Christmas Day at a crime scene.

I had performed my first abortion in the year Kyle was born, and though he had long supported our work, he now felt worried for us in ways he’d never expressed. As we stood near the ruins, breathing fresh air in gulps, he said, “Do you have to keep doing this work?” 

We were both silent for long moments before I simply said, “No. We choose to.” 

In this deeply personal account, Dr. Curtis Boyd and Dr. Glenna Halvorson-Boyd reflect on their lives in abortion care, from the childhood experiences that shaped their paths to the Supreme Court decision that forced the closure of their Dallas clinic.

Their stories begin in the 1960s, as Curtis opens a clandestine abortion practice while breaking with the beliefs of his Baptist family and Glenna pursues psychology while coming to understand the world of restrictive gender roles. When the two of them meet shortly after abortion is legalized, they bond over a common commitment to women, forming a professional and personal partnership that will weather the coming decades.

We Choose To is the story of that partnership, and the staff and patients that have shaped the history of modern abortion. In these pages, Curtis and Glenna share their holistic, morally rooted approach to their work. Led by a desire to empower patients, they advance abortion and mental health care further than ever even as they find themselves at the center of a controversial new issue in American life.

Sweeping, introspective, and deeply honest, We Choose To is a rare portrait of abortion providers and the world in which they work, where abortion is not a talking point in a culture war but a private, even spiritual, act.

Curtis Boyd, MD, is nationally known for developing abortion procedures and standards of care. He is also recognized for his expertise in pain management and minimizing surgery risk. Furthermore, Dr. 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 providers and others committed to providing quality abortion services so that they remain accessible to all women.

Glenna Halvorson-Boyd, PhD, RN, served on National Abortion Federation’s Board of directors and as NAF’s president for two years (1984-1986). She is an accomplished counselor, trainer, and consultant with a national reputation for her training of professionals in this field. Dr. Halvorson-Boyd has a PhD in Human and Organizational Development. Her previous publications include the book Dancing in Limbo: Making Sense of Life after Cancer.

Product Details ISBN: 9781633310872
ISBN-10: 1633310876
Publisher: Disruption Books
Publication Date: September 10th, 2024
Pages: 240
Language: English
“Some books stay with you long after the last page; this is one. Having already dedicated their lives and careers to the cause of reproductive freedom, Curtis Boyd and Glenna Halvorson-Boyd have given the world yet another gift with this profoundly moving and beautifully written memoir. We Choose To is a story of love, shared humanity, and the power of choosing to stare injustice in the face and do something about it.”
—Cecile Richards, former President of Planned Parenthood and New York Times bestselling author of Make Trouble

"With empathy and urgency to spare . . . this book offers an invaluably intimate glimpse at a delicate subject. It’s a must-read."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"This intimate and moving account of the reality of abortion care tells a unique story. The authors poetically describe the love and compassion—for their patients, for their staff, and for each other—that drives their work and also grapple with the grim reality for their family of choosing this line of work, as the danger and violence of anti-abortion activists is ever present. Their humility and dedication provide a model that should guide the next generation of abortion providers and advocates."
—Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights

“This memoir from two of the National Abortion Federation’s founding members provides a valuable history of abortion provision in freestanding clinics and the pioneering development of abortion counseling amid the backdrop of our country’s changing legal landscape. Writing alternating chapters, Curtis and Glenna share the philosophy and rituals they used to establish a patient-centered way of providing abortion care. This book offers an accessible and engaging education about the evolution of in-clinic abortion care in the United States and reads as a love letter to the thousands of patients who taught the authors and their staff so much along the way.”
—Melissa Fowler, Chief Program Officer, National Abortion Federation (NAF)

"We Choose To reminds readers that religious belief compels many of the physicians, nurses, doulas, counselors, and administrative staff who kept clinics running before, during, and after Roe. The book shows how Dr. Curtis Boyd, a former preacher ‘raised on black-eyed peas, corn pone, and Bible verses,’ found a new ministry providing abortions. Together, Dr. Boyd and Dr. Halvorson-Boyd share the profoundly moving work of providing lifesaving healthcare in the Deep South.”
—Jamie L. Manson, M.Div., President of Catholics for Choice

We Choose To shows us that abortion care is freedom and love, and that abortion providers are compassionate frontline heroes working in a terrain that is increasingly hostile for providers, patients, and their loved ones. What a wonderful reminder that this battle for reproductive freedom and justice did not begin and end with the fall of Roe v. Wade!”
—Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO, National Women's Law Center

"A thoughtful reckoning with the recent history of abortion in the United States."
Kirkus Reviews

"Curtis Boyd and Glenna Halvorson-Boyd have committed their lives to a shared cause: helping women end the pregnancies they wish to end. But if that commitment made them leaders of the pro-choice movement, this book is no screed. It is an honest look at their difficult work, and it shies away from nothing.”
—Joshua Prager, Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Family Roe: An American Story

"We Choose To is the most satisfying love story I’ve ever read. The Boyds invite the reader into intimate conversation about the spiritual joy of devoting one’s life to service, the intellectual passion of creating new medical procedures and counseling approaches, the healthy self-love fueling the choices of both abortion patients and providers, and the way two fiercely independent people can function as soulmates. An essential 'behind the scenes' history of US abortion care from its pioneers, and a manual for how people working for social justice in hard times might sustain themselves and each other."
—Katie Watson, Associate Professor, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, and author of Scarlet A: The Ethics, Law and Politics of Ordinary Abortion

“Curtis Boyd and Glenna Halvorson-Boyd have each played hugely significant roles in the evolution of abortion care in the United States. Their contributions include both key medical improvements in abortion methods and new approaches to abortion counseling, as well as to the often-overlooked issue of staff care. In this beautifully written memoir, the reader is introduced to both the challenges and gratifications of a lifetime spent doing this essential work. A bonus feature is the book’s moving portrayal of a loving marriage that is able to withstand the stresses of its partners’ involvement in the most contentious issue in American politics.”
—Carole Joffe, Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, University of California San Francisco and coauthor of Obstacle Course: The Everyday Struggle to Get an Abortion in California

"We Choose To illustrates what anti-abortion activists try to deny: that abortion care can be tender and restore women’s sense of self. It is a rare historical document about an often hidden medical practice that demonstrates why access to compassionate abortion services is so crucial to women’s health and lives."
—Johanna Schoen, Professor of History, Rutgers University and author of Abortion After Roe

“Curtis and Glenna Boyd are heroes of the abortion movement. They have helped many thousands of women with exceptional care. They inspired and taught generations of abortion providers with their unique, courageous, and profoundly empathic practice in the face of unrelenting harassment and political interference.”
—Philip Darney, MD and Uta Landy, PhD, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, University of California San Francisco