We are proud to launch the Dr. Willie Parker Fund for Abortion Access in the South! This new fund will provide financial assistance to help patients from Mississippi and Alabama access abortion care.
Donate to the Dr. Willie Parker Fund today!
As one of the only abortion providers in these regions, Dr. Parker sees the deep burden of restrictive laws that chip away at reproductive freedom reflected in his work every day. He was moved to launch the Dr. Willie Parker Fund to ensure that Southerners are not turned away from providers due to lack of ability to pay, get to clinic and navigate the web of TRAP laws. We spoke with Dr. Parker about his patients, his motivation and his support for the National Network of Abortion Funds.
Tell us about yourself and your work.
I’m a Southern born African American man who’s a physician trained in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Board Certified, with a sub specialty training in family planning and contraception. I am a women’s health provider, reproductive justice advocate, and an abortion provider. I’ve been providing abortions since 2003 and I’ve been an OB/GYN for 25 years. The first 12 years of my practice I did not provide abortion care, but I became convinced in the deepest places of my being that reproductive justice and reproductive rights demand that women have full control of their reproductive lives and that means access to all of the reproductive possibilities, including abortion. So I’ve been an abortion provider for about 13 years. That work to me is human rights and social justice work.
What are some of the barriers that your patients in the South experience?
In addition to disproportionately high rates of poverty, there are racial and ethnic tensions, as well as very parochial notions about sexuality. [In the South] unplanned pregnancies represent a moral failure with regards to a lack of sexual discipline and a lack of religious values, and as such, there is a very punitive nature to the policies that govern reproduction. There are very few states – I think there are no states in the South – that use Medicaid funds for abortion. Then there’s the targeted regulations aimed at restricting access to abortion. They’re often known as TRAP laws and they result in medically unnecessary rules that are arbitrary and burdensome and cumbersome, both on women and the clinics and providers. Some of those barriers include waiting periods as long as 72 hours in Mississippi; no funding for abortion services; parental notification laws; facility standards that require outpatient facilities to meet ambulatory care surgery status. So it’s a perfect storm. Every particular way in which a barrier can be created, that seems to happen in the South and it seems to happen under the guise that it’s an effort to make abortion safer for women when it’s already extremely safe.
What moved you to raise money for abortion funding in Mississippi and Alabama?
As a provider in both states since 2012, I know firsthand what some of the barriers are. I made the effort to relocate to the South and make myself more available to provide services in this region of the country. Even after many women come and get their counseling, and they get their assessment of the gestational age, I’ve seen women not come back because they could not clear the financial hurdle of paying for the service. People who oppose abortion have not been able to stop women who have means from getting abortion because of the [Hyde Amendment]. But they have been able to block women who have limited financial means from getting an abortion by blocking the usual source of coverage for medical care. In substance, they’ve created a system that says, “Although we don’t agree with abortion, you can have an abortion if you can pay for it,” which is unethical and, in my opinion, immoral.
So, it made sense to me that we need to come up with modes of assistance that stand outside of the regulatory authority. And that would be private donations to create a fund that would be targeted towards states that are challenged by poverty and restrictive laws. It just didn’t make sense to me to be in Mississippi and Alabama and not try and address the issues that are major barriers.
Why do you support the National Network of Abortion Funds?
As I’ve travelled the country and in some other parts of the world when people hear about the plights of people in the South, specifically Alabama and Mississippi, they’re moved by compassion to want to do something.
I really appreciate that NNAF makes a sustained effort to reduce the financial barriers for women all across the country and try and organize and fill the gap where that kind of assistance doesn’t exist. They have been able to standardize the process of local abortion funds being created and coming up to speed, being efficient at both generating funds and distributing funds to where the need is.
They are able to help funds to distribute monies more equitably; they are able to support local abortion funds, strengthening and collaborating with them, as well as being a repository for people from outside of the region who may not know how to get monies to local abortion funds. NNAF has played a clearinghouse role for those local abortion funds.
That was attractive to me and that’s why I approached them about creating a funding opportunity in the South.
I’m a fan of NNAF and I was humbled and flattered that they were willing to host and develop a fund in my name. It gives me the opportunity to champion the cause of women in the South and distribute funds in way that will be most helpful in Alabama and Mississippi. It’s just one more piece of the many pieces that have to fall into place for women to be empowered to exercise their full rights, to control their reproductive lives and thereby their whole lives.
Learn More about the Hyde Amendment
On October 3, 1977, Rosaura Jiménez died in Texas of an illegal abortion, becoming the first known woman to die because of the Hyde Amendment, which eliminated federal Medicaid funding for abortion. Congress first adopted the Hyde Amendment on September 30, 1976, but it did not go into effect until August 4, 1977. Within just […]
Have you been waiting for the other rental shoe to drop? The total numbers are now in from this spring’s National Abortion Access Bowl-a-Thon, and we are bowled over: In the largest event of its kind, activists this year went balls out, breezing past goals to strike Hyde: Together, you raised over $553,000 for abortion […]
Have you ever heard a story that leaves a lump in your throat? These are the stories that stay. These are the stories that move us. In our new video, members of the National Network of Abortion Funds talk about the experiences that inspire us to do what we do every day:
The EACH Woman Act, introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), over seventy Congressional Co-Sponsors and with the support of thirty-six women’s health, rights, and justice advocacy organizations, ensures coverage for abortion for everyone, however much they earns or however they are insured. We […]
The National Network of Abortion Funds is alarmed to see the Georgia House approve up to $2 million dollars of taxpayer money to fund deceptive and dishonest crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). Georgia joins at least 12 states that directly fund CPCs, and will surely add to the more than 4,000 CPCs already spanning the United […]
After 40 years of the discriminatory Hyde Amendment, members of the National Network of Abortion Funds are speaking out about the localized impact of the harmful policy, and imagining their work without this huge barrier to reproductive justice. Hoosier Abortion Fund – Indiana Indiana has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, including […]
The National Network of Abortion Funds plays a critical role in the reproductive health, rights, and justice movements because it fosters an authentic and radical community rooted in support and compassion. We provide framing, policy analysis, and local mobilization around complex, rapidly shifting issues connected to racial and economic justice, and we connect national level […]
The Hyde Amendment is a discriminatory piece of budget legislation passed each year that bans federal funding of abortion. It impacts million of people in the United States and takes away the legal right to choose abortion, financially coercing people into giving birth because they can’t afford the abortion they need. When abortion first became […]
September 2016 marked 40 years since the Hyde Amendment passed. Abortion funds all over the U.S. didn’t let it go by without a fight, joining other All* Above All partners to hold a week of action for abortion coverage. Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund held FIVE banner drops throughout their state. Lilith Fund held a similar visibility […]
In the wake of a stunning strike against reproductive freedom this past week, the National Network of Abortion Funds is seeing a surge of people who are newly concerned about securing the access and right of people to get the abortions they need through what many have described as an “underground railroad” of abortion. I’m […]