Monday evening, Physicians for Reproductive Health honored two abortion providers, Dr. Eve Espey and Dr. Willie Parker, for their unwavering support of abortion rights at the Rashbaum-Tiller Awards Ceremony.
Eve Espey, MD, MPH is professor of obstetrics and gynecology, associate dean of students, and chief of the Family Planning Division at the University of New Mexico. She has won numerous teaching awards from medical students, including—twice—the Khatali Award for best clinical teacher in the School of Medicine, the highest medical student award at the University of New Mexico.
Dr. Espey received the William K. Rashbaum award Monday for providing outstanding abortion services and for serving as an inspirational leader for colleagues, medical students, and residents. The award was named after William K. Rashbaum a passionate physician who saved many women from botched abortion procedures before legalization and went on to train many providers in safe procedures once abortion was legalized in New York. Dr. Rashbaum died in 2005 at age 79.
In receiving this award Dr. Espey said: “In places like New Mexico, barriers are magnified, hurdles are higher and challenges are more daunting. When I am sitting bruised in my chair in the ring, from threats from Operation Rescue, from opposition in the hospital. … [I’m reminded] there is no more important work than helping women realize their potential through access to reproductive health care.”
The other award of the night went to Willie Parker MD, MPH, MSc, who until recently was medical director of Planned Parenthood Metropolitan Washington. Parker’s recent work has focused on violence against women, sexual assault, male responsibility in family planning, and women’s reproductive health rights through advocacy and the provision of contraception and abortion services.
Dr. Parker received the George Tiller, MD award, which recognizes a physician early in his or her career who provides abortions while demonstrating leadership and courage, even in the face of adversity. The award was named after Dr. George Tiller an abortion provider, who was killed by an anti-choice terrorist in 2009.
In receiving his award, Dr. Parker said simply, “We who provide abortions do so because our patients need us, and that’s what we are supposed to do: respond to the needs of our patients.”
The event was hosted by actress and women’s rights activist Martha Plimptom. Physicians for Reproductive Health is a doctor-led national advocacy organization that promotes sound reproductive health policies. The organization’s president, Jodi Magee, also spoke.