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.
“You fucking bitch!” he half screams, half groans at me, but I am already out the door.I run full pelt to my desk, grab my jacket and my purse, and dash to front reception, ignoring the moans and curses emanating from the bastard still prostrate on the kitchen floor. I burst out of the building and stop for a moment as the cool air hits my face, take a deep breath, and compose myself. But I haven’t eaten all day, and as the very unwelcome surge of adrenaline recedes, my legs give out beneath me and I sink to the ground.
I watch with mild detachment the slow motion movie that plays out in front of me: Christian and Taylor in dark suits and white shirts, leaping out of the waiting car and running toward me. Christian sinks to his knees at my side, and on some unconscious level, all I can think is: He’s here. My love is here.
“Ana, Ana! What’s wrong?” He scoops me into his lap, running his hands up and down my arms, checking for any signs of injury. Grabbing my head between his hands, he stares with wide, terrified, gray eyes into mine. I sag against him, suddenly overwhelmed with relief and fatigue. Oh, Christian’s arms. There is no place I’d rather be. “Ana.” He shakes me gently. “What’s wrong? Are you sick?” I shake my head as I realize I need to start communicating. “Jack,” I whisper, and I sense rather than see Christian’s swift glance at Taylor, who abruptly disappears into the building. “Fuck!” Christian enfolds me in his arms. “What did that sleazeball do to you?”
And from somewhere just the right side of crazy, a giggle bubbles in my throat. I recall Jack’s utter shock as I grabbed his finger. “It’s what I did to him.” I start giggling and I can’t stop. “Ana!” Christian shakes me again, and my giggling fit ceases. “Did he touch you?” “Only once.” I feel Christian’s muscles bunch and tense as rage sweeps through him, and he stands up swiftly, powerfully—rock steady—with me in his arms. He’s furious. No! “Where is that fucker?” From inside the building we hear muffled shouting. Christian sets me on my feet. “Can you stand?” I nod. “Don’t go in. Don’t, Christian.” Suddenly my fear is back, fear of what Christian will do to Jack. “Get in the car,” he barks at me. “Christian, no.” I grab his arm. “Get in the goddamned car, Ana.” He shakes me off. “No! Please!” I plead with him. “Stay. Don’t leave me on my own.” I deploy my ultimate weapon. Seething, Christian runs his hand through his hair and glares down at me, clearly wracked with indecision. The shouting inside the building escalates, and then stops suddenly.
I am a Christian, and right now, I am so disappointed in my community.
This week there was a mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando, which at my last check caused the death of 50 and injured at least 53 more. It was the biggest mass shooting in United States history. Many people have mourned the loss of the victims, including many Christian churches.
However, I’ve also noticed a LOT of “christians” heading onto social media to express opinions such as “those perverts deserved it” and “my children will be a lot safer now with those people off the street.”
To those people out there, are you kidding me? Some man literally kills 50 PEOPLE, and you’re first thought is “he’s doing God’s work.” As Christians, we follow the new testament, where Jesus preached love and acceptance. He said “I give you a new commandment- to love each other as I have loved you.” And yet, you STILL have the nerve to look at a tragedy like this, lift your hands in the air and praise God for smitting out the sin. Please pick up a Bible and show me an example where Jesus killed someone that the world believed was a sinner. Go on, take your time. I’ll wait here while you leaf through each page, verse by verse, while you look for a passage where Jesus killed someone for sin.
Well now that you wasted about an hour trying to prove that, let’s bring up the fact that you still think that it was still justified because the people at the club were “sinners” (I would debate you on that point, but that’s for another rant at another time). The entire point of our religion is that Jesus died to take away our sins. Like, he literally hung on a cross for hours, dying to save us. And yet, even though the physical manifestation of God died for us “sinners”, you still believe that this psychotic gunman went the extra mile by killing these people- even though it is the polar opposite of the basic tenants of Christianity?
My final point is that because of all of these hateful posts online, I no longer feel safe in my own community. You may have gone through this messaging thinking I was straight, or not even giving it a thought, but I’m not. I identify as pansexual, and I also identify as Christian. That’s quite the combo for some people, and I know that there are people that are going to read this and start fuming. How dare I, a sinner, follow a religion that preaches the forgiveness of sin? It’s a scandal. Because of my sexuality, there are people in my own community that want me dead. I’ve seen the posts for years, and honestly became somewhat numb to it. The fact is someone could shoot me or any of my lgbtq friends in the street just being who we are, and that’s absolutely terrifying, but that’s a reality we have to face every day. I could be laying in a pool of my own blood in the street, or holding the body of one of my friends in my hands, and members of my own Christian community would nod stoically and say “this is the will of God.” Why on Earth is that ok?
I am a Christian, and I am disappointed in my community. Something has got to change.