“The last thing I want to say is a lot of times when you come, there might be protesters. There are people that are going to be telling you that what you’re doing is wrong. It’s immoral. That you can’t be a Christian. That you’re going to hell. And a lot of women that bothers. Because there are women here who also have a religious belief, who also feel like they’re Christians….
I see women who are crying because they are Christians,” he continues, “and they are torn up by the fact that they don’t believe in abortion but they’re about to have one. What I tell them is that doesn’t make you a hypocrite. You can never say what you will do until you’re in the situation, and Christians get in jacked-up situations, too.
And I address this because if those people are getting inside your head and you’re feeling conflicted, if you are not comfortable with what you’re doing, you may be processing this far longer than you need to. There’s nothing immoral about taking care of your health. There’s nothing immoral about making the decision to not become a parent before you want to become one. There’s more than one way to understand religion and spirituality and God. I do have belief in God. That’s why I do this work. My belief in God tells me that the most important thing you can do for another human being is help them in their time of need.”
” –Dr. Parker, Christian Abortion Provider
This is an important article for Christian’s who’ve had an abortion just as much as it is for all the Christian Anti’s who wrongfully name abortion “murder” and attack, lie and demean women by name calling; using names, I might add, that describe everything we are not [see photo…]…
I am just going to jump in and share this brilliant doctor -who is an abortion provider AND christian; one that actually practices the love and acceptance their ‘savoir’ Jesus teaches in their Bible- too bad more of his fellow Christians are so brainwashed and cruel. I have a lot of anger towards anti’s and as most seem to be Christian hypocrites I’m going to conceal my anger regarding their MIStreatment of women and let one of the few good ones talk about abortion and what it really means.
These are quotes and excerpts from the full article with Dr. Parker, which can be found in the link which follows. I thank Dr. Parker for being a real doctor, and a good man…For putting women and real life first, and not joining the hypocritical movement of anti-choicers. I thank him for speaking up against anti’s; and I hope if any of you are Christian and feel you are a ‘bad’ person or a ‘sinner’; please, realize you are not… This man believes in Christianity and practices is supposed to be, I would think, basic behaviors of anyone who truly believes in the words Jesus taught. While I’m not a Christian, I do now there are some good Christians, like this man….we need more such as Dr. Parker to remind women of the truth and deflect the anti-choice behaviors and lies to those who claim the same religion.
“If you are comfortable with your decision, ignore everything from everybody else.”
“When the consultations are over, Parker vents. These poor women have to come through all those verbal assaults from the “Antis,” as he calls them, the taunting and the judgment and the cloying malice of their prayers. But the Antis never ask the hardest question: If they really think abortion is murder, how long should a woman be in prison? Instead, they go after the doctors. And other doctors will say, Bless you, you’re so brave, but they turn women away and often don’t even refer them to someone who will help them. And some will say smugly, We don’t do that here, failing to recognize that what he does allows them to make that smug declaration, allows them to present themselves as noble caregivers
while they send their most desperate patients out to fend for themselves.
And don’t get him started on the state’s fight for admitting privileges. The Pink House does about two thousand abortions a year, and CDC records say that Mississippi residents get six thousand abortions a year. The state used this as evidence that women could always go outside the state, making it fine to shut down the Pink House—the exact same argument, as it happens, that segregationists once used to keep Mississippi colleges white. But the reality is women with money will do what they did pre-Roe:
Their expensive private doctors will counsel them on exactly the right words to use about mental trauma and suicidal tendencies so that the hospital board will rule the termination of their pregnancy a medical necessity. But the women who come to this clinic are often poor women of color who can’t afford to go outside the state and who can’t afford the expensive consultations on just the right words to say.
“They’re the ones who have to do the perp walk,“ Parker says. The Antis, who call themselves pro-life, don’t seem to care that before Roe v. Wade, hundreds of women a year died trying to terminate their own pregnancy or from an illegal abortion, a disproportionate number of them minorities. “We know what happens when abortion is illegal,” Parker says. “Women suffer and they die. But when abortion is safe and legal, patient mortality goes virtually to zero.”
Perfectly bald, with a salt-and-pepper goatee, a small gold hoop gleaming in his left ear, and a warm smile on his dark brown face, Dr. Willie Parker enters the waiting room. Eleven young women and one tired forty-three-year-old mother sit in a circle of chairs, regarding him with somber expressions. Eight are black. Four are white. One has jittery legs that never stop moving. Another has giant false eyelashes in constant motion. The rest are absolutely still, sitting with straight backs, like good students or condemned prisoners. One has her hair in a tight bun, another wears a Nefertiti head wrap, another wears a baseball hat that says LOVE and a T-shirt that says SOUTHERN GIRLS KNOW HOW TO PINCH A TAIL. Some have freckles, some wear glasses. One looks like a Botticelli painting, with skin so luminous it seems to shimmer. They are nurses and college students, clerks and saleswomen. One is in high school. One dances in a strip club. Another just got out of the Army.
This is because no doctor in Mississippi is willing to provide such a service. Although the state already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, including a twenty-four-hour waiting period, parental consent, face-to-face counseling with the physician, and a ban on the use of Medicaid funding (except in extraordinary cases), it is going all out to close this clinic, the last abortion provider in Mississippi, known as the Pink House because the defiant woman who owns it painted it pink to make it stand out, bold and unashamed. The latest fight is over whether abortion doctors should be required to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital in the event of a complication, an irrelevant requirement since a hospital’s emergency-room staff usually does the admitting. It’s a practice no other specialty is required to observe. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes the state law that makes this a requirement. But a similar law may soon leave the state of Texas—home to twenty-seven million people—with just six abortion clinics. It is already law in North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah and looms over Alabama, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Louisiana and is likely to spread to other states, pressed by a nationwide conservative movement that uses regulation to force a result democratic votes cannot achieve. So Parker flies down from his home in Chicago for several days twice a month to perform the service so few other doctors are willing to provide.
“As you know,” he continues, “there’s been a lot of press recently about the efforts that the state is making to close this clinic. And we’re fighting that. Just Monday, we were in New Orleans at the federal-court hearing. Right now we are waiting for them to rule on the changes in the law that would make us close. It might be a few weeks, might be a few months. But the bottom line is today the clinic is still open, so we can provide care for you. And that’s what we’re going to do.”
“THE PROTESTERS SAY THEY’RE OPPOSED TO ABORTION BECAUSE THEY’RE CHRISTIAN,” PARKER SAYS. “IT’S HARD FOR THEM TO ACCEPT THAT I DO ABORTIONS BECAUSE I’M A CHRISTIAN.”
Many of these women come from hours away, one from a little town on the Kentucky border that’s a seven-hour drive. They don’t know much about Dr. Parker. They don’t know that he grew up a few hours away in Birmingham, the second youngest son of a single mother who raised six children on food stamps and welfare, so poor that he taught himself to read by a kerosene lamp and went to the bathroom in an outhouse; that he was born again in his teenage years and did a stint as a boy preacher in Baptist churches; that he became the first black student-body president of a mostly white high school, went on to Harvard and a distinguished career as a college professor and obstetrician who delivered thousands of babies and refused to do abortions.
They certainly don’t know about the “come to Jesus” moment, as he pointedly describes it, when he decided to give up his fancy career to become an abortion provider. Or that, at fifty-one, having resigned a prestigious job as medical director of Planned Parenthood, he’s preparing to move back south and take over a circuit roughly similar—for safety reasons, he won’t be more specific—to the one traveled by Dr. David Gunn before an antiabortion fanatic assassinated him in 1993. Or that his name and home address have been published by an antiabortion Web site with the unmistakable intent of terrorizing doctors like him. Or that he receives threats that say, “You’ve been warned.” Or that he refuses to wear a bulletproof vest, because he doesn’t want to live in fear—”if I’m that anxious, they’ve already taken my life”—but owns a stun gun because a practical man has to take precautions. What they do know is this:
He is the doctor who is going to stop them from being pregnant.
“The last thing I want to say is a lot of times when you come, there might be protesters. There are people that are going to be telling you that what you’re doing is wrong. It’s immoral. That you can’t be a Christian. That you’re going to hell. And a lot of women that bothers. Because there are women here who also have a religious belief, who also feel like they’re Christians.”
A black woman nods.
“I see women who are crying because they are Christians,” he continues, “and they are torn up by the fact that they don’t believe in abortion but they’re about to have one. What I tell them is that doesn’t make you a hypocrite. You can never say what you will do until you’re in the situation, and Christians get in jacked-up situations, too.”
The woman nods again, twice.
“And I address this because if those people are getting inside your head and you’re feeling conflicted, if you are not comfortable with what you’re doing, you may be processing this far longer than you need to. There’s nothing immoral about taking care of your health. There’s nothing immoral about making the decision to not become a parent before you want to become one. There’s more than one way to understand religion and spirituality and God. I do have belief in God. That’s why I do this work. My belief in God tells me that the most important thing you can do for another human being is help them in their time of need.”
At this, the women exchange glances.
Parker continues, spending more time on this issue than on anything else. One in three women will have an abortion by the time she’s forty-five, he tells them. “Y’all talk about your shoes, you talk about where you work, where you bought your dress, but y’all ain’t going to say, ‘Oh girl, when did you have your abortion?’ So I’m saying that if you are sitting in a room full of women, the only person you can really be sure about having an abortion is you. And you got to be comfortable with you.”
So this is between you and your conscience, he tells them. “If you are comfortable with your decision, ignore everything from everybody else.”
By this time, something unexpected has happened. This disparate group of a dozen women, who walked into this room not knowing who they would meet or what they would find, having only crisis in common, has become united, a team. A slender young white woman wearing Dickies work pants—the one who was recently in the Army—speaks up as if she’s speaking for all of them: “Doing this as a group helps us to see that we are not the only one. Being able to speak to each other about a decision we are about to make, even if it’s not close friends and family, it’s very helpful.”
“I’m happy to hear that,” Parker says. “Because part of the suffering is when people feel like they are on their own. And that’s why we have to keep it safe and legal.”
In fact, the Army veteran adds, she’d like to get involved with the clinic—to contribute somehow.
Parker beams and tells her to talk to him later.
He’s ready to stop now—in the next step he will be doing private consultations with each of them—but the women don’t want to let him go. What birth control should they take? Are the abortion pills or surgery more likely to preserve their ability to have babies in the future? Can they follow up with their regular doctors, or will they refuse even that? He answers all their questions and moves on to another room and another group of women, giving the same speech almost word for word.
This time, during the question session, a young white woman asks what happens in surgery when you’re fourteen weeks pregnant. She has hair the color of straw, and she’s wearing a college sweatshirt.
Parker starts to give a technical answer but stops when the woman starts to cry. “Is your concern also what it means for the fetus?” he asks.
She wipes away her tears. “I’m in a bad situation and I just can’t have the baby right now—it’s just a bad time.”
Parker tries to soothe her, but this makes her weeping only more intense. She’s scared, she says. “And I don’t want to take any risks that could cause other people to know about it.”
Parker nods and continues in a softer voice: “I can tell you that in the last four years, we have not transferred one patient to the hospital. The likelihood of being transferred to the hospital after an abortion is 0.3 percent.”
Her tears slow down as he continues at length, applying a treatment method he calls “verbicaine.” She’s in college trying to get a degree, she got dumped by her boyfriend, her parents are very conservative, her hometown is the tiny place near the Kentucky border, seven hours away. But she didn’t want to do this anywhere near there.
“Well, that just kind of shows what the reality is for women in this state,” Parker says to her. “We’ve got one clinic and they’re trying to close it.”
When Parker was ten, his mother moved from the house with no electricity and plumbing into his grandfather’s place. To get to that neighborhood, you drive past a gravel plant. Here, the world is coated with gray dust. Parker’s youngest brother points out the sights: “They call that the lie tree, because everybody set up under that tree and drink and tell lies.”
Their grandfather’s house is simple, square, made of weathered boards that were never painted. The house that didn’t have plumbing is a few streets over, abandoned now, a lone shoe left behind on the porch.
One street over is an area they called the “White Quarter.” Its backyards adjoined the Parker yard, but the blacks were never supposed to cross the line, much less drive down the white street. Naturally, the boys took this as a challenge. “It was a thrill to get on your bike and go down that hill. Three or four of us would get at the top and yell Go! and we just shoot down the road. Next thing you know, the dogs all come out running at you—or somebody shoot at you.”
When he went off to college, Parker was still wearing a Jesus pin in his lapel every day and devoted his Saturday mornings to knocking on dorm-room doors to spread the Word. But that was the fall of 1981, when Reagan was funding the contras in Nicaragua and apartheid in South Africa was making the news, and his professors threw out one moral challenge after another. “Now it’s not just about Jesus gets you to heaven and you live fine with pie in the sky by and by but what is your role as a Christian in the modern world?”
One professor even asked him to write a paper on abortion. His answer was rooted in “Thou shalt not kill,” but he was already reluctant to judge. “My hope was that women would approach the question prayerfully,” he remembers.
After medical school, he bought a big house and a nice car and overstuffed his refrigerator the way people from poverty do, but those satisfactions soon seemed empty. He dated but never quite settled down. Inspired by Gandhi’s idea that the Gospel should appear to a hungry man in the form of bread, he went to work in a food pantry. But gradually, the steady stream of women with reproductive issues in his practice focused his mind. He thought about his mother and sisters and the grandmother who died in childbirth and began to read widely in the literature of civil rights and feminism. Eventually he came across the concept of “reproductive justice,” developed by black feminists who argued that the best way to raise women out of poverty is to give them control of their reproductive decisions. Finally, he had his “come to Jesus” moment and the bell rang. This would be his civil-rights struggle. He would serve women in their darkest moment of need. “The protesters say they’re opposed to abortion because they’re Christian,” Parker says. “It’s hard for them to accept that I do abortions because I’m a Christian.” He gave up obstetrics to become a full-time abortionist on the day, five years ago, that George Tiller was murdered in church.