By Dave Andrusko
Last week we took a close look at a long article that appeared in Esquire Magazine titled “The Abortion Ministry of Willie Parker” [http://nrlc.cc/V1r6bI]. The quasi-religious overtones were not confined to the headline of John Richardson’s laudatory profile of a man who flies into Mississippi twice a month and aborts up to 45 babies in a single day.
Besides telling his readers over and over that Parker is a Christian, Richardson bathed his uncritical examination in religious metaphors. For example, referring to the information abortionists are required to pass onto women (which Parker then mocks and distorts), Richardson writes, “In an almost priestly cadence, he builds a sermon around the word required.”
Later, “In all these interactions, even if it has nothing to do with abortion, Parker never misses a chance to offer comfort. This seems to be his version of absolution, often delivered with a moral.”
It would not be unfair to conclude Parker does see himself as a theologian dispensing his own kind of balm, which he calls “verbicaine.”
In a recent appearance on (where else?) MSNBC, Parker told the host that there is a false (or at least an incomplete) narrative surrounding the abortion issue. First, the setting.
Parker was asked if there will ever come a day when the abortion issue will be “less charged and less heated.” Well, no. “The fierce opposition,” he said,
“to women making what is, for them, a sacred decision is ever-present. There is a very vocal, well-organized numerical minority of folk who oppose abortion on religious grounds. That there is not another narrative makes it seem like their ground is a moral one.”
But Parker hastens to add there is another “narrative”—one espoused by the abortion trade’s religious front group, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, on whose board he serves. This “another position,” Parker tells MSNBC, is the notion that “protecting the decision of women is equally sacred.”
Two quick thoughts. First, what does it say that in the Esquire story, Parker places the blame on organized religion, going back to its very foundation?
Opposition to abortion, ultimately, “comes back to the early Judeo-Christian narratives that say the fall of man was caused by a woman, Parker says. ‘That’s woven into our culture, and it has to be deconstructed at every level.’”
So at the end of Richardson’s story when Parker matter-of-factly points out the aborted baby’s skull and eyes and the beginnings of a spinal cord, your and my nausea at this ultimate act of dehumanization is actually a reflection of how we blame Eve for everything?
Second, Richardson looks at the fetal body parts and writes this:
“But here’s the vital question: Is it a person? Not by the standards of the law, [Parker] says. Is it viable outside the womb? It is not. So this piece of life—and remember, sperm is alive, eggs are alive, it’s all life—is still totally dependent on a woman. And that dependence puts it in the domain of her choice. ‘That’s what I embrace,’ he says.”
Talk about inversion. At the very heart of the Judeo-Christian ethic is a responsibility, an obligation, to the powerless, those who are dependent on us.
To Parker, a member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, there is no moral nexus. So long as the child (or toddler or infant?) is “still totally dependent on a woman,” what happens to him or her is “in the domain of her choice.”
Parker also completely misread the parable of the Good Samaritan, but that is a topic for another post.
Suffice it to say there is nothing “sacred” about taking the lives of utterly dependent human beings.