University to pay $365,000 after 23-year-old student killed by septic abortion

The University of New Mexico will pay $365,000 to settle a lawsuit from the family members of a young woman killed by an abortion.

Keisha Atkins died in 2017 after having an abortion at 24-weeks. The late-term abortion was carried out by late-term abortionist Curtis Boyd Southwestern Women’s Options (SWO) after Atkins was referred there by the University of New Mexico (UNM). Her mother and sister first filed the lawsuit in 2018.

Sharing an update on the case, Abortion on Trial (AOT), an organisation that helps families and people harmed by abortion and assisted in the legal challenge, said: “After a few years of legal battles, hearings, and major Covid delays the case has finally been dismissed and UNM has agreed to pay the Atkins family $365,000 for the negligent referral that led to Keisha’s death”.

The organisation noted: “Of course it is important to note that $365,000 is actually going to be paid by the taxpayers who are funding this public university’s negligent decisions”.

Court documents show that the Atkins’ family reached the agreement in January, although details of the settlement were only made public last week. 

Abortion on Trial said the settlement was important for the sake of women’s safety.

“Abortion On Trial is pleased with this settlement not only for sake of the Atkins family, but for the sake of women’s safety going forward,” it said in a statement, adding: “If a major university is paying $365,000.00 for referring a woman to an abortion clinic, anyone referring women to abortion clinics should be terrified of the risks they’re taking”.

The wrongful death lawsuit accused the University of New Mexico of covering up the young woman’s cause of death. 

Family attorney Michael Seibel said in 2018: “Keisha Atkins’ medical treatment was a series of negligence and malpractice which ultimately led to her untimely death – these actions were compounded by the fact that she was instructed to not seek emergency room care by Southwestern doctors.

“We also have reason to believe that these parties conspired with UNM’s Medical Investigator to conceal the cause of death from the abortion in order to protect each other’s interests and long-standing relationships”.

Late-term abortionist Boyd admitted during a deposition for the lawsuit that he carries out abortions regardless of the age of the unborn child. He says it is his “calling” to provide “full-range, first, second, and third-trimester” abortions and “[t]here’s not set period” in which he would refuse to perform an abortion on an unborn child.

An abortion at 24 weeks takes up to four days to complete. Documents obtained by Abortion on Trial show that, following her first appointment on January 31, 2017, Atkins was repeatedly drugged by the staff of Southwestern Women’s Options, with fentanyl and Versed (midazolam), both of which are known to cause “serious breathing problems”. In addition to this, they gave the young woman oxycodone and two doses of abortion pill Mifeprex as part of an experiment.

It was revealed during the trial that each time Atkins returned to the abortion centre over the course of the next four days, she was drugged and sent back to her hotel without medical supervision.

Atkins died in hospital after going into respiratory distress at the abortion centre on 3 February. Her death was originally ruled as “natural” from pregnancy by the medical examiner, a decision which baffled doctors at the hospital who battled to save her and who agreed she had died from a septic abortion.

New Mexico Rep. Rebecca Dow (R). said: “While the settlement against the UNM Board of Regents provides important financial relief to the Atkins family, it also underscores the need for safety laws for late-term abortions.

“The New Mexico Legislature has chosen many times to ignore the safety of the mother during a late term abortion. Informed consent of the risks of any procedure is a foundational patient right and should be honored in the abortion context as well. It is a shame that UNM continues to fail to provide adequate information about the serious risks of these procedures.

While I believe there are many alternatives to abortion, the simple truth is that a woman who opts to receive an abortion should receive the same information of the risks of the procedure that is afforded in every other medical environment.”

Abortion can legally be carried out in New Mexico at all stages of pregnancy. Southwestern Women’s Options is facing its own wrongful death case regarding Keisha.

Paying tribute to Keisha and her baby at the time of their deaths, Irish pro-life organisation The Life Institute said:

“Keisha Marie Attkins was a bright, young student who had her whole life ahead of her. Why was she made to feel that there was no support for a student with a baby and has pushed towards a drastic procedure to kill her baby – at  24 weeks gestation. Instead of the university providing real help and real support for people who find themselves in those situations they chose to further the business of abortion clinics. Women deserve better.”

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