Dr. Willie Parker is an abortion provider and a Christian.
He’s received a lot of press, including a long piece in Esquire magazine in 2014, for being one of only two doctors who provides care at the last abortion clinic in Mississippi. That’s a clinic that the governor wants shut down to achieve his goal of Mississippi as “an abortion-free zone.”
Four other states are also down to one clinic.
Praise for Christians
I have plenty to disagree with Christians about, but I seek out opportunities to celebrate Christians with whom I agree. Rev. Barry Lynn was head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Senator Rob Portman is a Republican who reversed himself on the same-sex marriage issue after his son came out as gay. And Dr. Parker is a Christian who feels that he is doing the Lord’s work by helping women get essential healthcare.
Parker’s path to his profession
Dr. Parker makes the trip to Mississippi from his home in Chicago twice a month. He’s Harvard educated and gave up a career as a college professor and obstetrician to become an abortion provider. The realization that this would be his civil rights struggle is what he calls his “come to Jesus” moment, and he became an abortion provider on the day that Dr. George Tiller was murdered in his church.
Mississippi used to have 13 abortion clinics, they’ve gotten rid of all but one, and anti-abortionists want to shut down that one, too. Since they can’t make abortion illegal, they want to make it impractical by imposing nuisance requirements. These include demands that clinic doctors must have hospital admitting privileges in case of complications (unnecessary since any such situation would go in through the emergency room), scary information that must be provided by the doctor (which is one sided and often scientifically incorrect), unnecessary regulations that only drive up costs, unnecessary second ultrasounds (some with the technician required to identify the fetal parts to the woman), and so on.
Mississippi social metrics aren’t so good
Hey, kids! Here are some fun stats about Mississippi. Besides having a fun name, it has the second-highest teen birth rate in the United States—nearly four times the rate of the lowest state, Massachusetts. It has the highest rate of unintended pregnancy, at 63%. While it only has one abortion clinic, it has 38 crisis pregnancy centers (these are pretend abortion clinics with anti-choice agendas). And it has the highest rates of poverty, gonorrhea, obesity, and infant mortality in the country.
But all is forgiven since it’s also the most religious state. Jesus must be pleased.
The other side of the issue
Anti-abortion activists argue that Mississippi residents seeking abortions can always go out of state, and about two-thirds are already forced to. Not only is going out of state not an option for poor women, but this was the argument segregationists made about black students who wanted to attend the state’s whites-only colleges.
Another odd argument is that the status quo is a plot against black babies since many of the women seeking abortions are black. In fact, we’re seeing black women trying to take control of and responsibility for the size of their families. Most women seeking an abortion already have children to consider. And it is inconsistent to hear concern for the disadvantage coming out of the mouths of the same people who want to cut funding for social programs and education.
The National Right to Life News was unimpressed with the favorable Esquire piece. Consider some of their complaints.
- Dr. Parker performs too many abortions per day during his visits to Mississippi. That’s easily solved—open more clinics and pay for more doctors.
- Dr. Parker is reported to have done late-term abortions. Then remove pointless red tape to make abortions happen earlier.
- Dr. Parker is quoted as underestimating the fraction of abortions after the first trimester. So earlier is better? Great—sounds like you accept the spectrum argument, that the inherent worth of the fetus increases during gestation. Again, the solution is encouraging early pregnancy tests and quickly providing complete information so that any abortion happens as soon as possible.
- The teeny chopped-up fetus looks gross. The result of any medical operation can be yucky. Imagine holding down your lunch while watching a surgeon poking around inside a chest or abdomen. And if the issue is fetal pain, “the neurological wiring [to feel pain] is not in place until . . . after the time when nearly all abortions occur” (source).
Anti-abortion activists, do you really want to reduce abortions? ’Cause if you are, you sure aren’t going about it the right way.
Zero abortions won’t happen whether abortion is legal or not. Making abortion illegal doesn’t eliminate it; it simply drives it underground (more here). What you need to do is attack the problem at the source: the half of all pregnancies in the U.S. that are unwanted. Reduce the demand for abortions and you reduce abortions. (More here.)
Not only will this turn pro-choice enemies into allies, but now you’re open to explore why other developed countries have so much lower teen pregnancy rates.
(I have more recommendations for the pro-life movement here.)
See also: “20 Arguments Against Abortion, Rebutted”
that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.
— Mahatma Gandhi
(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 8/13/14.)
Photo credit: Lady Parts Justice League