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Dr. Willie Parker

A Mississippi OB-GYB recently stated that he sees it as his Christian “calling” to provide abortions.

Dr. Willie Parker — who practices at the state’s only abortion facility, located in Jackson — wrote an Op-Ed for Glamour magazine attacking Mississippi’s Gestation Age Act.

The legislation, signed by Gov. Phil Bryant last month, bans abortions after 15 weeks (i.e. four months into the pregnancy). The law notes that the unborn baby’s vital organs begin to function at 10 weeks, and by week 12, he or she has taken human form in all relevant aspects.

Parker wrote in his Op-Ed, “As an ob-gyn and a Christian, I see it as my calling to help women in making the decisions that are right for their health, their lives, and their families. I believe it’s my duty to meet their needs without judgment. Not only do restrictive laws make it harder for me to do my job — this radical abortion ban is an assault on women across the South.”

He argued, “Before the 15-week ban passed, Mississippi patients already faced multiple barriers to abortion, including a mandatory 24-hour waiting period, a mandatory ultrasound law, a 20-week ban, a ban on the use of telemedicine to administer a medication abortion, and a law that requires a minor to get parental consent before obtaining an abortion.”

In an interview with AlterNet, Parker explained how he tries to ease women’s guilt about obtaining an abortion. A substantial portion of his practice is made up of African-Americans.

“Many women of color are deeply religious, and I’m quite comfortable talking about the moral and spiritual center,” he explained. “So, I add that dimension to the care I provide. I call it dignity restoration.”

Parker continued, “I sense when a woman is dealing with guilt and shame and I’m offer a bridging conversation around faith and the sacred decision of whether to end her pregnancy. Yesterday, for example, one patient was praying and asking for forgiveness, and so I explored that with her.”

“For many women, there is a tremendous amount of relief in not being turned away. … There is relief in no longer being pregnant but also relief in someone seeing that ‘I’m not a bad person,’” he stated.

AlterNet asked how the doctor knows when a patient wants to talk about guilt or other issues with which she may be dealing.

“I’m reading body language and I try not to be presumptuous,” he replied. “I ask open-ended questions. Anyone who is getting an abortion has to tell me why they are tearful. If this is a jacked-up situation — I need to know that the tears don’t mean a person is conflicted or ambivalent, because, if so, I can’t proceed. … But I do invite people into conversations.”

Parker also encouraged fellow abortion providers to be ready to have the “God talk.”

“Our patients have their own ways of understanding reality, and many need to address a metaphysical dimension as they process their experience,” he said. “There are patients who ask their providers to pray with them.”

The doctor contended the key to being involved in the abortion practice — given widespread public opposition to it, particularly in the South — is to be “more principled than average.”

“We’re not superhuman — we are just like you,” he said. “But to do this work my colleagues and I draw from a deep conviction that lets us endure the opposition and frank danger. Most doctors who refuse to perform abortions are consciously refusing, and the people who insist on providing are conscientiously providing the care.”

Parker added, “That is the way that the human spirit runs when we have a deep resolve about principles or values or people to which we are deeply committed. That is the only thing that has kept abortion access available for women.”

Pro-life activist Ryan Bomberger with the Radiance Foundation noted last week in a piece for Life Site News that the top killer for African Americans is abortion, surpassing the 15 other leading causes of death combined.



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