Board Chair Willie J. Parker, MD, MPH, MSc

WillieP-061516-037 final (uncropped)Willie J. Parker, MD, MPH, MSc, is a reproductive justice advocate who travels as an abortion provider in Alabama and Georgia. He holds a BA from Berea College in Kentucky, an MD from the University of Iowa, a Masters of Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health, and a Master of Science from the University of Michigan. He completed residencies in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Cincinnati and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and was an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer with the Centers for Disease Control. Dr. Parker served as assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii prior to completing a fellowship in Family Planning at the University of Michigan in 2008. He is both board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and trained in preventive medicine. Dr. Parker’s more recent work has focused on violence against women, sexual assault, and reproductive rights and justice through advocacy and provision of contraceptive and abortion services. Most notably Dr. Parker is a recipient of the 2013 Physicians for Reproductive Health Dr. George Tiller Provider Award, the 2015 Helen Rodriguez-Trias Social Justice Award from the American Public Health Association, and the 2016 Dr. David Gunn Lifetime Achievement Award from the Abortion Care Network.  He also was recently honored by the United Nations Office of Human Rights as one of 12 Women’s Human Rights Defenders on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women. He is also a recipient of Planned Parenthood’s 2015 Margaret Sanger Award. Dr. Parker is a 2007-2008 Leadership Training Initiative Fellow. He joined the Physicians for Reproductive Health board in November 2007 and is the current Chair.

DR. PARKER IN THE NEWS:

Statement on the passage of H.J.Res. 43

Today, the House of Representatives voted to overturn a rule President Obama put into place last year that clarified the qualifications for funding Title X family planning services. This critical rule reinforced the longstanding requirement that health care providers may not be excluded from the program for reasons unrelated to their qualifications to perform Title X-funded services. In overturning the rule, states may be emboldened to discriminate against health centers like Planned Parenthood and prevent them from receiving Title X funds. In response, Physicians for Reproductive Health Board Chair Dr. Willie Parker issued the following statement:

“Rolling back the rule on qualifications for Title X is dangerous—it could prevent millions of people across the country from getting the health care they need. Where I practice in the South, many of my patients, their families, and their communities rely on Planned Parenthood for birth control, cancer screenings, and other vital preventive care. Planned Parenthood is the only way some of my patients can stay healthy. The people who rely on Title X funding—including people of color, people with low incomes, and those who live in rural areas—already face obstacles to getting health care. If budgets are moral documents, then so are funding criteria. Nothing says more clearly to our most vulnerable citizens “you don’t matter” like restricting access to what they need to be healthy. The federal government’s priority should be improving Americans’ access to health care, not eliminating options.” 

Statement on the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General

In response to the confirmation of Senator Jeff Sessions to Attorney General, Dr. Willie Parker, Board Chair of Physicians for Reproductive Health, issued the following statement:

“As a physician from Alabama who provides abortions, I have seen firsthand how Jeff Sessions’ brand of politics endangers the health and safety of women and families. His extreme record of hostility towards reproductive rights stands in the way of his ability to protect the constitutional right to abortion and the safety of patients and providers. This is unacceptable for any officeholder, but especially worrisome for someone who is now the chief law enforcement official of our great country.

As proponents of quality reproductive health care, we are dedicated to helping women and men exercise their right to lives of autonomy, dignity, self-determination, and opportunity. Not only has Senator Sessions voted against protecting reproductive health care providers and their patients from clinic violence and harassment, Senator Sessions has a record that is marred by racism. He has also made troubling comments about sexual assault victims, and he has voted against protections for the LGBT community. These are not the actions of someone who will protect our citizens or their fundamental rights.

Despite the challenges that Jeff Sessions’ confirmation as Attorney General will pose, we must remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ‘The time is always ripe to do right.’ It is now more important than ever that physicians continue to fight for the right to safe, comprehensive reproductive health care.” 

Statement from Dr. Willie Parker on the passage of H.R. 7

With the passage of H.R. 7 and its virtual destruction of insurance that covers abortion, Dr. Willie Parker, Board Chair of Physicians for Reproductive Health responds:

“The House of Representatives’ vote today on H.R. 7 was a vote to punish women who seek abortions on the basis of how much money they earn, where they live, and how they are insured. H.R. 7 would turn existing cruel and unfair policies that deny women health insurance for abortion into permanent law. While this vote is not surprising, I am disappointed for my patients and their families.

Over the past few years, we have seen a groundswell of support for eliminating the coverage restrictions that currently target low-income women, women of color, young women, and immigrant women. But H.R. 7 ignores this support and would take our country backward.

H.R. 7 would restrict abortion coverage for nearly all people in this country. If it becomes law, it would create burdensome regulations that could push all insurers to stop covering abortion. It also takes an unprecedented step to put politics into tax policy—effectively penalizing families and small businesses for having abortion coverage in their plans.

Let me be clear: abortion is health care. Where I practice in the South, my patients suffer when they can’t afford the abortion care that they need. My patients need to be able to make decisions based on what’s best for them and their families. They need to be able to afford their care. No woman should be denied the ability to make this personal health decision because she is poor.  The late Texas Governor Ann Richards once said, ‘Life isn’t fair, but government must be.’

We are deeply disappointed in the House’s passage of H.R. 7 and urge the Senate to reject it.” 

Statement from Dr. Willie Parker against President-elect Trump’s Anti-Choice Comments on 60 Minutes

Dr. Willie Parker, Board Chair of Physicians for Reproductive Health, issued the following statement in In response to President-elect Trump’s pledge to appoint anti-choice judges:

“Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land for 43 years and is supported by the majority of Americans. As physicians, we know all too well the harm women face when they don’t receive the care they need. We have seen how unconstitutional laws that force women to travel to other states for abortion care make this care essentially unobtainable, and it would be unconscionable to erect even more stringent barriers. President-elect Trump’s attack on fundamental rights is unacceptable. We will continue fighting to ensure that our physicians can fulfill their deep, conscientious commitment to providing all women who need it with dignified, compassionate, and appropriate reproductive health care.

Our position remains firm: politics should not trump medicine.”