His becoming an abortionist, Willie Parker tells Rolling Stone, “was an assertion of my responsibility to pursue justice and human dignity.” I don’t doubt him. He is, by his lights, a moral man.
Parker heads the board of Physicians for Reproductive Health and performs abortions at the one abortion facility left in Mississippi. He’s a biggie in the abortion industry. Planned Parenthood gave him their 2015 Margaret Sanger Award. He’s just published Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice. Hence the Rolling Stone interview (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/willie-parker-taking-back-the-moral-high-ground-on-abortion-w475403).
The Purest Positions
Parker takes every position you’d expect an abortionist to take, and he takes them in the purest form. The state should impose no restrictions on any abortion, ever. It should fund them and make others (employers, insurance companies) fund them too.
Neil Gorsuch “is not fit to serve on the Supreme Court if he won’t support women’s constitutional rights to abortion,” Parker said in a recent PRH press release https://prh.org/gorsuch/ . “Any prospective Supreme Court nominee must uphold this settled law about a woman’s ability to make her own reproductive health decisions.”
He also objected that the nominee had read the law in favor of Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor. Doing that “undermin[ed] health care access for women” and denied “an employee’s right to health insurance that meets all of her health care needs.” Opposing legal abortion is “placing politics over medicine.”
In another press release https://prh.org/statement-confirmation-jeff-sessions-attorney-general/ , Parker opposed the nomination of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General because opposing abortion “is unacceptable for any officeholder.” Everyone in office must “protect the constitutional right to abortion.”
For Parker, the right to legal and affordable abortion isn’t just settled law but an act of moral maturity. In the interview, he invokes Martin Luther King, Jr., as being “instrumental in me examining my role in addressing injustice and oppression.” He talks about finding “a deeper humanity” when he began to do abortions. He then became “more willing to be defined by how I respond to injustice than about accommodating customs and norms that are rooted in injustice.”
In the rest of the interview, he speaks as if legal, fully affordable abortion is not just good but morally imperative. Women who can’t get abortions are like slaves in the Old South. He’s indignant about women’s subservience to the “patriarchy.” Without making any kind of argument, he suggests that their liberation requires legal abortion. “The closest thing I could think of that would be analogous to women not being in control of their reproductive rights,” he says, “would be the horrible legacy of slavery we have in this country.”
The interview closes with Parker describing pro-lifers as heartless. We’re concerned not for the unborn and their mothers but want to drag America back several decades. We don’t have the same moral concern for women that he does. Ours is really a political cause. “It just makes sense to me,” he says,
that the people opposed to abortion are really interested in controlling the fertility of white women. Because white women are the ones who are working outside the home and defying conventional nuclear family concepts. They’ve been able to do that by gaining control over their fertility.
A Moral Argument
As I said at the beginning, I don’t doubt that for Parker performing abortions expresses his “responsibility to pursue justice and human dignity.” He may justifiably, from his point of view, see himself as continuing King’s work of liberation. I’m sure he believes that he’s helping a woman every time he kills her baby and that he’s making the world better by defending abortion the way he does.
Anyone can make a moral argument for the most extreme practice of abortion, and Parker does. You can make the argument from a sincere compassion for the women pregnant with babies they don’t want. You can invoke the classic visions of liberation and freedom to explain what you do.
You can do all this, easily, with a clean conscience, if you make one small adjustment at the beginning. Just deny that the unborn boy or girl shares your humanity, and you can speak for killing them as if it were a moral necessity. Make one deeply immoral choice and you establish a new morality. The question never raised in the interview, by Rolling Stone or Parker, is who and what the child is.
The child is never mentioned at all. He doesn’t matter. He’s invisible. Just a thing for other people to dispose of as they wish. What happens when a society denies the humanity of its most vulnerable citizens is the lesson of slavery that Willie Parker doesn’t think to draw.