Former Clinic Worker: Nita Whitten

Nina Whitten, former clinic worker, discusses what she observed in an abortion clinic run by Dr. Curtis Boyd.

“I was hired by Curtis and Glenna Boyd in July 1980. The reason I went to work for Curtis and Glenna was sort of a long and complicated one. I grew up in a Christian home. My father was a preacher when I was a child. He retired from preaching and he became an engineer, and we lived a fairly normal life. I was, however, rather radical along the feminist lines. My mother was too, and to some extent I still am because I am a preacher, and there aren’t a lot of men who think women ought to be preaching, but I am preaching to you today.

When I went to work for Curtis and Glenna, they made really sure that I was all in favor of abortion. What was so funny was that I lied right through my teeth. I didn’t know anything about it, I really didn’t. I didn’t know anybody who had one; I had never seen one; I had never been around it. All I knew was the word “abortion” and that I was a liberal person. I was very liberal, and so therefore I could work there. I told them that it wouldn’t bother me and that if I got pregnant I’d probably have an abortion. That’s what I told them. They believed me and they hired me.

I was a competent secretary and still am pretty good at being a secretary. But the funny thing about it is when you’re involved in abortion, your whole perspective about life changes. At least mine did. I was really shocked at the reaction that my family and my friends had when they found out that I worked at an abortion clinic. I couldn’t tell my grandmother what I did, so I lied to her and I told her that I worked for a doctor who took care of women. She thought we delivered babies, I guess. She didn’t know and she didn’t find out until just a few weeks ago, and she sent me up here with her blessing. I think that’s wonderful.

Several of the people who I worked with were very unusual. The woman who was instrumental in hiring me, Elaine Clark, and I pray for Elaine every day… I really want the Lord to deliver Elaine because when I knew Elaine she was on her way to quitting the clinic. She wanted to leave and the reason she wanted to leave was she said, and I believe all of them will eventually say this, she couldn’t handle it any more. It was too much.

….

Elaine was hooked on Valium when I was there. I don’t know what she’s doing now; I’ve heard reports that she’s better now and, of course, she’s not working there so obviously she’s better. But she was really, really traumatized by what she saw every day. She was traumatized by the insensitivity to not just unborn babies’ lives, but to life in general. Because that’s how this clinic was run. It wasn’t good. It was hard to work there. It was hard to work for Curtis and Glenna, and it was hard to work in a place where there was no love, and there wasn’t any love. They’ll tell you that they’re doing this for the woman’s sake, and, you know, Curtis was involved in civil rights back when the black people received their liberation. He was all involved in that. But it’s a lie when they tell you that they’re doing it to help women, because they’re not. They’re doing it for the money.

Money was the big deal. We made a lot of money. Curtis and Glenna lived in a very nice home. They had another nice home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

They owned expensive things and lived like rich people do. They wanted to live that way and they weren’t embarrassed to live that way. They made all their money on abortions. When I worked there, they did abortions up to 19 weeks, and we had babies bigger than 19 weeks (in Texas at the time, you could only go to 24 weeks), Robert Crist would fly in and do our big, big babies on Saturdays once in a while when we could get him in there.

24 weeks

One of the most interesting things that happened when I worked there was that I was trained by a professional marketing director how to sell abortions over the telephone. This man came into our clinic and he took every one of our receptionists, all of the nurses, anyone who would be on the phone, and he took us through an extensive training period where we learned how to sell abortions over the telephone so that when the girl called, we hooked a sale so she wouldn’t go down the street and get an abortion somewhere else, and so that she wouldn’t adopt out her baby or so that she wouldn’t change her mind. We were doing it to get her money. It was for the money.

One of the things that our clinic was very afraid of was bad press. Glenna had nightmares, and it’s interesting to hear about these dreams because I’m going to tell you about my dream in a few minutes. But Glenna had nightmares. There was a woman who had died at our clinic from amniotic embolism of the brain…The woman who died in the abortion clinic caused a lot of press coverage in Dallas. They descended on that clinic. Glenna even gave a big speech at the National Abortion Federation meeting about it; how she worked it out in psychological terms, and how she was so traumatized by this, but how we all were, etc. It won her great acclaim. It in no way saved that woman’s life, and it didn’t do anything for that woman’s husband or her family which she left behind. I think that it’s time that we call it what it was. That woman was murdered, not just that baby. Amniotic embolisms can happen at any given moment, but it certainly wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t had the abortion.

I’m going to tell you some gory details that happened at the clinic that I remember specifically. There was a woman who came in the clinic who was forcing her daughter to have an abortion. This wasn’t uncommon at all; it happened all the time. Since I was on the front desk a lot of times, filling in for the receptionist, or if they were out sick, I got to see this firsthand. I wasn’t really as adept as some of the other girls because I wasn’t always up there. I was usually in the back typing, filling out papers, and basically paying the bills, doing the things that secretaries do.

14 weeks

This woman forced her daughter to come in there and she was a second trimester, probably about 15 weeks. They had inserted the laminaria the day before, and she was in there and quite miserable. The poor girl was really upset and she kept going to the bathroom, and obviously there was something wrong with her physically, and when she went into the bathroom the next time, all of a sudden she started screaming at the top of her lungs. “It’s a baby; it’s a baby; mama, mama, mama!” She was screaming in the middle of our clinic. So I’m freaking out and trying to figure out what’s going on. I called Holly, her counselor, and said, Holly, she’s aborted the baby in the bathroom and you need to get the doctor right now. Well, he was in a procedure and couldn’t come then. None of the nurses knew what to do, so they got her back there real quick and took care of her.

…..

You see, when the girls come into these clinics, they don’t know, nine times out of ten, what’s going to happen to them. They get a package deal–it’s like going to get your teeth fixed or something. This is what we’re going to do to you; it won’t hurt very much; it’s going to cost this–pay cash. They don’t tell you what the baby looks like; they don’t tell you how long it’s going to take; they don’t tell you it’s going to hurt. And it hurts; it’s a baby; and it’s a waste of your money.

16 week old unborn twins

One of the things that happened a lot of times is that women would be referred by their doctor because they didn’t want to have that particular baby. There was one woman who came in and she was pregnant with twins. She had a family; she was a normal person; she could have that baby; there was no problem having babies; she got pregnant on purpose but when she found out it was twins she decided to have an abortion because there were twins. She did it on purpose. Her doctor referred her to us because there was twins. So she came into the clinic and I remember when they took the little fetuses, the little babies, back to the lab room and they were looking at them. Everybody came in to look. I went in to look. I wanted to see what twin babies looked like.

eight weeks sonogram

That was really the first time I really looked at the babies. I had never really looked; I hadn’t been in the procedure room; I didn’t know. I knew what they said. Curtis made films and stuff, but I didn’t pay much attention to that because I wasn’t a doctor and I wasn’t a nurse. I was a secretary, and I kind of wanted to avoid thinking about those little babies. Because you see, in my heart, I knew they were babies, and I knew it was murder, and I knew it was wrong.

One thing that happened at the clinic that I worked at that was incredibly devastating, right before I left. Dr. Boyd had made an agreement with a doctor, and I cannot name this doctor because I just don’t think it would be wise to name him today, but he was the Director of Fetal Research at the University of Texas Health Science Center at that time. He had made an agreement with this doctor to give him our large babies for him to do fetal research on. They did this, and I believe at the time, it was against the law. I don’t know if it is now, and I’m not familiar with the legal terms because I’m not a lawyer, but I remember we were told not to tell anyone, and they only came in secret to get the babies.

12 weeks

What happened in the clinic, though, was the thing that sort of made me start thinking about getting out of there. They brought their research assistant in because Curtis is so interested in technology and all these weird things he liked to do. He had them come in and they dissected a baby for us in our lab room so we could see what they were doing with the body parts. They did that right there and everybody filed in and looked. I looked at it. I pretended like I was being brave and walked out. It made me sick.

One of the things that happened as I worked at the clinic was that I became extremely depressed, extremely despondent, and basically hooked on drugs. I had done “fun” drugs before I started working at the clinic because, you know, when you’re that age, peer pressure, I thought it was fun and I enjoyed that. But when I worked there I had to take drugs to cope. I took drugs to wake up in the morning; I took speed while I was at work; and I smoked marijuana, drank lots of alcohol, and took anything else I could buy with the money that I made. This was a daily thing. I’m not talking about on weekends; I’m saying that this is the way that I coped with what I did. It was horrible to work there and there was no good in it.

In January, right before I left, I started having problems with my period, and I was on birth control pills and assumed that there was no way that I could get pregnant. Basically, what happened was that I developed amenorrhea, but I didn’t know that at the time. I thought I was pregnant. Now this nurse who I worked with was just a regular nurse; she wasn’t an OB nurse; she wasn’t trained. And the nurses did ultrasounds on the large babies before the doctor did the procedure, and he would look at the picture, and they thought they knew what they were doing. They had no idea what they were doing. You have to be a technician to really run an ultrasound machine the way you’re supposed to. They had no training in ultrasound machines other than what Glenna Boyd taught them. That was it. Glenna Boyd isn’t even a doctor or a nurse. They did an ultrasound on me and did pregnancy tests and couldn’t find out what was wrong. They decided I was pregnant and they inserted a laminaria in me. I went home with a bottle of valiums; I had 10, 10 mg. valiums, and my husband now but who I was living with at the time, said that I took the whole bottle that night. I took them one at a time. I started at 5:00 in the morning and by the time I got back to the clinic the next morning at about 9:00 1 had taken the whole bottle and don’t remember that very well because after you take a couple you don’t remember things. I was in such severe pain I could not think. It was the most excruciating pain I have ever felt in my life, and only by the grace of God can I even tell you about it. I went into the clinic the next morning and at our clinic they used nitrous oxide, pericervical blocks, and Sublimaze, and that’s how they did the procedures. So they hooked me up to all this and my counselor was one of the girls I worked with and she was there to help me cope with this situation. They were going to do this abortion on me. They got in there and discovered that I wasn’t even pregnant in the first place. I was just totally baffled by all this. Why did they do this to me if I wasn’t pregnant? I worked for them; they ought to know better; how come this happened? Well, when I went home that day I was still in a lot of pain, so they referred me to the little doctor that they always have on call. I went to him and he told me I had a severe pelvic infection and couldn’t believe that they did this to me. He gave me some antibiotics and told me I would be all right.

I wasn’t satisfied with his answer so I went to my mother’s doctor, and he said the same thing, that basically they did a terrible thing; they made a big mistake; I wasn’t pregnant. Why did they do this? They couldn’t imagine why and I was really sick with this pelvic inflammatory disease. They gave me some more medicine. I took the medicine and got over that, but I took off work for six weeks. While I was off of work, they still paid me and they had to call me to get the directions on how to pay the salaries. I was the only one who knew how to fill out the checks and do all the accounting part of it.

It’s funny, because the girl who was the director of the clinic at that time, named Marty, is a Catholic. I was sort of baffled by her. She was an unusual person. She called on the phone and I told her that I never wanted to talk to her again. You did this to me and I wasn’t even pregnant. Don’t you know any better? What’s wrong with you? Why would you do this to me? She just said, calm down, it’s not the end of the world. I was still taking my illegal drugs and my legal drugs, trying to cope.

I finally got back to work, and while I was there, in the spring, Marty and I were there. I came in about 9:00 and there were fire trucks all around our clinic and I couldn’t imagine why. The funny thing is that we were struck by lightning. I am serious. It burnt out every major electric appliance, including the abortion machines.

After they did this abortion on me when I wasn’t pregnant and after we got struck by lightning, my husband (who wasn’t my husband then) a mathematician, decided to go back to college and get his Master’s Degree, and I praise God because he was willing to say, okay, we’re moving. I really wanted to get out of the clinic and I said, I’m getting out of the rat race. I hated living in Dallas.

There were a lot of medical things that they did that I don’t agree with. Like Dr. McMillan brought out, if they’re such good doctors, how come they don’t report their complications? How come they don’t turn it in to pathology? I moved to Nacagdoches, Texas and God put me where I went. I got a job at the hospital there, at Nacagdoches Memorial Hospital, praise God! It’s funny because I told them where I worked and I had this funny notion that good patient care was what I had seen. There wasn’t good patient care, but I thought it was, sort of, in my mind. I couldn’t justify what they did to me, but I thought this was just the way it was.”

Q. If a girl had a problem and came back what would happen?

A. That’s the saddest thing you could have asked. Basically, if there was something really serious they sent them to the little doctor on call. But other than that, they didn’t do anything, and they certainly didn’t do anything to help her emotionally or mentally. There weren’t many cases of that happening because most of the women, like has been said, wanted to forget it. They didn’t want you to know that they had had an abortion, and they weren’t about to do anything about it. I believe Curtis was involved in some sort of litigation where he was being sued for some sort of malpractice deal. I don’t know whatever came of that, but I do remember filing the papers for it. There were always instances where something could happen because it was bad medical care, especially at that clinic. It was pretty pathetic.

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