by Sunsara Taylor | October 25, 2013 | This interview originally appeared in Revolution Newspaper at revcom.us
“We have laws put on the books now that literally compromise the lives of women… and that is hard for me to take when I know what it means when women don’t have access to abortion.”
Dr. Willie Parker
From November 2–6, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization (JWHO), the last abortion clinic left in Mississippi, will be besieged by one of the most woman-hating, Dark Ages, bigoted Christian fascist organizations in the country. Operation Save America/Operation Rescue, has been associated with clinic violence and terror over decades. Local activists have called for a week of action defending this clinic and StopPatriarchy.org is mobilizing people nation-wide to join with and link this up to the fight to win abortion on demand and without apology across the country. Find out more about this effort at StopPatriarchy.org orhttp://revcom.us/movement-for-revolution/stop-patriarchy/.
In an effort to bring attention to the emergency that confronts the women of Mississippi, Sunsara Taylor conducted the following interview with Dr. Willie Parker, one of the two heroic abortion doctors who regularly flies to Mississippi to provide abortions. Earlier this year, Dr. Parker received the George Tiller, MD Award (named after the well-loved abortion doctor who was assassinated in 2009) for his leadership and courage and was presented with an Abortion Providers Are Heroes certificate of appreciation by the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride at the Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation, in Oak Park, IL.
Sunsara Taylor: I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me today, I know that you’re squeezing this into an extremely busy schedule, which includes a lot of travel across the country. So I wanted to maybe start with that and ask if you could talk a little bit about why it is that you do so much travel, in particular for your job providing abortions.
Willie Parker: Sure. My pleasure to be with you on the interview. As you know, I am calling you from the road, I’m en route to Montgomery, Alabama where I work as a traveling abortion provider. For me, making the decision to travel to provide this service, after making the decision to actually become a provider, is born largely of the fact that I realize that abortion as well as health care should be easily and readily accessible for the women and families who need it. But the reality is that 92% of counties in this country have no abortion provider, and that’s for multiple reasons, but the more present ones are, besides the shame and stigma associated with abortion, there are the legal and legislative maneuvers to restrict access to abortion, despite it being legal via the Roe v. Wade decision. So my understanding of the need of women for abortion care, coupled with the fact that there’s limited access, led me to conclude that I have a skill, I have a desire to provide the service, because I know what it means when women don’t have it. And given that the distribution of this resource is limited, I decided that if I don’t go to where the need is, increasingly all over this country, but for me particularly, I chose to travel to the South, where I’m from, to meet the needs of women, who, if I don’t travel, they don’t have access.