Life Matters

In the 1960s, Baptist minister Curtis Boyd left his East Texas pulpit to become a doctor, providing safe abortions before it was legal.

Film Signature Image
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
January 20, 2004
60 minutes

Kyle Boyd

Kyle Boyd is a graduate of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where he received the Award for Excellence in Documentary. His student film, Side Tracks, won top awards at the NYU Video Festival, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Editing. In addition, he received the Student Emmy for Best Documentary at the Show more 1990 Academy of Television Arts and Sciences College TV Awards. Boyd has since directed more than a dozen award-winning documentaries and educational programs on such topics as teen suicide, apartheid, the history of trade unions, life after prison, and understanding prejudice. He is president and co-founder of Grayscale, a video production company based in Brooklyn, New York. Beyond producing and directing, Boyd is also an accomplished videographer and editor, working on several series for national broadcast television. Show less

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The Film

A fascinating portrait of one man’s life and work, Life Matters is also a personal story — a film by Kyle Boyd about his father, Curtis. Raised on a farm outside of rural Athens, Texas, Curtis Boyd was voted “Most Courteous Boy” by his high school class. He worked hard and maintained straight A's while preaching at his local church. After college he earned his medical degree and opened a family practice in his hometown. With his wife and three small children, Dr. Boyd was the pride of the community.

But then came the 1960s. Boyd was approached by a group of compassionate religious leaders from many denominations who were concerned about the dangers of back-alley abortions. The group provided referrals to counseling services and doctors who were willing to provide abortion services. While Boyd was hesitant to become involved in something that was clearly illegal, he felt it imperative to provide assistance. Boyd risked imprisonment and loss of his medical license, and as the demand for his services grew, he was unable to keep his involvement secret. Town gossip, death threats, and bomb scares eventually forced him to leave his hometown and relocate his practice to Dallas.

When the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, Boyd thought the worst was behind him. But only then did the most serious harassment begin. His clinic has been the target of multiple arsons, and is a favorite of Operation Rescue protests and activity.

In telling this personal story, Kyle Boyd uses extensive interviews with both of his parents, home movies, and testimony from his father’s patients, co-workers, contemporaries, and clients. Eschewing the combative rhetoric surrounding the issue of abortion, Life Matters introduces us to a man whose convictions were unshakable and whose life mirrors the myriad paradoxes of his time and place.