Being an abortion provider is a dangerous and often thankless job. Those who dedicate their lives to ensuring that patients can safely end a pregnancy are often met with harassment, death threats, and in some cases, are murdered. March 10th is Abortion Provider Appreciation Day; a day created to remember physicians like Dr. David Gunn and Dr. George Tiller who were assassinated by anti-choice activists to keep them from providing safe abortion care. The day honors the sacrifices abortion providers make, putting themselves in harms way, to ensure everyone receives compassionate abortion care. One such provider is Dr. Willie Parker.
Dr. Parker is one of the two providers at the only abortion clinic in Mississippi, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization. He flies in from out of state because no Mississippi-based physicians are able to provide care. Dr. Parker walks in the footsteps of Black abortion providers like Dr. Edgar Bass Keemer Jr., who stepped up to provide abortions in the 1940s and 1950s regardless of their income at a time when White doctors refused to see Black patients. He’s a rabble-rouser much like Dr. T.R.M. Howard who fused his activism in the Civil Rights movement with his pro-choice and women’s rights beliefs. Recently honored by the United Nations for his courage in defending human rights for women, Dr. Parker is a leading voice fighting to achieve full equality for all people through access to bodily autonomy and healthcare.
EBONY interviewed Dr. Parker about why he has dedicated his life to providing abortion care.