A woman’s “right to choose” is a divisive topic. I first heard Dr. Willie Parker, a Christian, on the podcast, Only Human. He chose women’s health as his specialty and became an obstetrician gynecologist. He talks about the road he traveled with regard to his beliefs, moving from a “Fundamentalist, Protestant born-again Christian” upbringing—where he was taught abortion was wrong—to specializing in “providing safe abortions in the Deep South.”
Life is a Process
Dr. Parker is thoughtful and compelling, a man who has thought deeply about the “right to choose” issue, and articulates those thoughts clearly.
“I’m clear-headed about what I’m doing, I’m clear that abortion disrupts a life process. We’re ending a pregnancy. People ask the question “when does life begin? Does life begin at conception?” No, life begins before conception. Life is a process. You can’t have a dead egg and a dead sperm and get a live zygote.”
Something in that statement—that you don’t get fertilization without life already being present—was a new and powerful idea. To the extent it was the opinion of a man of faith, born and raised in the south, who previously had a completely disapproving view of abortion, gave it added significance.
The podcast is a worthy 20-minute listen. Host Mary Harris handles the topic sensitively and directly. Hearing Dr. Parker talk, listening to the inflection in his voice, the pauses and the passion, is powerful. It fleshes out his personal story. It delivers a rich sense of the man, his beliefs and the evolution of those beliefs. It approaches a complex subject with humanity.
- Podcast: Only Human
- Episode: One Doctor’s Mission: Safe Abortions in the South
- Host: Mary Harris
- Date: 2/2/16
- Duration: 20 minutes
- Podcast Transcript
- “The Abortion Ministry of Dr. Willie Parker,” John Richardson, Esquire, 7/30/14
- “The Christian Doctor Fighting for a Woman’s Right to Choose,” Dr. Willie Parker, Moyers & Company, 4/14/17
- Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice, book by Dr. Willie Parker, April 2017, Simon & Schuster
- Jackson (Movie Trailer): Maisie Crow, 2016: 92-minute documentary about the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last abortion clinic in Mississippi. IMDb link.
- “What America Can Learn from Mississippi’s Last Remaining Abortion Clinic,” Jenavieve Hatch, The Huffington Post, 5/24/16
Update: Dr. Willie Parker Photo Credit: Physicians for Reproductive Health