Many feminist legal scholars, including Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, have argued that the Supreme Court should have legalized abortion on the grounds of equality rather than privacy. Pregnancy and childbirth are not only physical and medical experiences, after all. They are also social experiences that, in modern America, just as when abortion was criminalized in the 1870s, serve to restrict women’s ability to participate in society on equal footing with men.
In Mississippi, there is only one clinic where a woman can go if she needs an abortion. The state is trying to close it down. At that clinic, there is a doctor who tends to the needs of these women, and he has to fly in from out of state to do it. There is no shutting him down.
Dr. Willie Parker heads down to Mississippi regularly to take care of women because no doctors living in the state are willing to help them. While some women have the resources to get treatment elsewhere, for many women this clinic (the only one left in Mississippi) is all they have.
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.
I’m pro-choice. I fully support women’s right to make their own decisions about their bodies and reproductive health. In some cases, that decision is to get an abortion — and women deserve a safe place to get them.
In 2012, America’s teenage girls had an average of thirty-one births per one thousand. In Canada, the number was fourteen. In France, six. In Sweden, seven. The difference is that those countries promote contraception without shame.
If the US weren’t so shaming about sex, perhaps there wouldn’t be such a need. If domestic violence weren’t so rampant, perhaps there wouldn’t be such a need. If being a mother didn’t derail a woman’s career or result in income instability, perhaps there wouldn’t be such a need. But the need is there, and denying it doesn’t solve any of the problems a woman faces when she becomes unexpectedly pregnant.
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.”
Dr. Parker’s work is inspiring not just because he makes it possible for these women to manage their health and their lives, but also because of how he listens to them, speaks with them, and cares for them as people. It’s a moving story, and I encourage you to read the whole thing: The Abortion Ministry of Dr. Willie Parker