Dr. Willie Parker Wants to Take Back the Moral High Ground on Abortion
Deep South abortion provider discusses why he "decided to exercise Christian compassion not by proxy, but with my own capable hands."
Those who believe in widespread access to abortion and contraception have for far too long ceded the moral high ground to anti-choicers, argues Deep South abortion provider Dr. Willie Parker in his new memoir, Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice. Women, families and the country have suffered as a result, he says.
A trained obstetrician, Parker refused for years to perform abortions, instead referring his patients to other physicians when the need arose. But after working at an outpatient clinic for indigent people in Hawaii in the early 2000s, and seeing what happened when that clinic stopped provided abortions, Parker was forced to reckon with his indifference. Inspired by a group of young residents who courageously took matters into their own hands, as well as Martin Luther King’s final sermon, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” Parker decided his life course had to change. Within two years, he had left his idyllic Hawaiian life to train full-time in abortion care and commit to Dr. King’s version of justice. “On that day, I decided to exercise Christian compassion not by proxy, but with my own capable hands,” Parker writes.
In his book, Parker – who now is board chair for the group Physicians for Reproductive Health and provides abortions at the last remaining clinic in Mississippi – delves into his religious upbringing in Alabama as well as the love of science and medicine that took him to Kentucky, Iowa, Michigan and Washington, D.C.. Parker makes a humanistic case for easy access to abortion, and says the Christian thing to do is help women in need, without judgment.