It is one of the most disturbing articles I've ever read. The current issue of Esquire magazine profiles the "abortion ministry" of Willie Parker, a doctor who flies in and out of my home state of Mississippi to perform abortions at the state's only abortion clinic. The word "ministry" isn't incidental. Dr. Parker says he aborts unborn children because Jesus wants him to.
Parker, the article says, preached in Baptist churches as a young man, before going into medicine. He had, he says, a "come to Jesus" moment where he became convinced that he ought to do abortions. "The protesters say they're opposed to abortion because they're Christian," he says. "It's hard for them to accept that I do abortions because I'm a Christian."
The profile portrays Dr. Parker as he prepares women for the abortions he is selling them. He tells them to ignore everything but their own consciences, and then, of course, he informs their consciences that abortion is morally acceptable. "If you are comfortable with your decision, ignore everything from everybody else."
Apparently, he knows how to ignore everything else, including the conscience. The article quotes him talking a woman through an abortion by telling her that her unborn child is "very small."
In the most chilling passage of the article, Parker has just aborted triplets, and is sorting through the aftermath. He then points out the body parts of a nine-week unborn child he has just aborted. "There's the skull, what is going to be the fetal skull," he says. "And there are the eye sockets." Parker points out, "That's an eye."
The article states: "Floating near the top of the dish are two tiny arms with two tiny hands."
Parker says that he is not disturbed by these body parts because he is "not deluded about what this whole process is." It doesn't disturb him, he says, it just tells him the woman's uterus is empty, and she's no longer pregnant. He doesn't consider the "fetus" a person because the child is totally dependent on the mother, and "that dependence puts it in the domain of her choice."
Parker says his "come to Jesus" moment, persuading him of the "call" to abortion, happened when he heard a sermon by Martin Luther King Jr. on Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan. By performing abortion, Parker sees himself as the Samaritan, caring for the beaten neighbor on the side of the road.
That would be true, of course, if the Samaritan in Jesus' story had euthanized the neighbor, to put him out of his misery. Of course, he didn't. Instead, the Samaritan took the neighbor on as his own kin, nursing him back to health and caring for him, a picture that looks a lot like what many of the pro-life churches and organizations Parker dismisses are, in fact, doing for women in crisis and their babies.
Ironically enough, the one left for dead on the side of the Jericho Road was also totally dependent. Without the embrace of love and the kindness of a passer-by, he was left for dead. He was hardly viable on his own. The priest and the Levite passed on, Dr. King preached rightly, probably because they were afraid. Fear paralyzed them from seeing the humanity of another. The road to Jericho was filled with "choice," as person after person averted his eyes from the hurting human being in front of them. The one on the roadside was dependent, totally dependent, on one who saw life as better than death.
Dr. Parker could be that Good Samaritan. Instead, he looks into the sonogram screen and says, "And who is my neighbor?" (Lk. 10:29).
Let's pray and work for an end to the injustice of abortion. Let's pray and work for better solutions for women in crisis. But let's pray for doctors like this as well.
There is no one living who is beyond the call to salvation, and there is no sin that cannot be overcome by the redeeming blood of Christ. Jesus confronted Saul of Tarsus on the way to commit violence, and turned him around, using him to carry the gospel to all of us. And the Lord can do the same now. The gospel can even save one who is so far gone that he believes he is aborting in Jesus' name. That's good news for all kinds of sinners. We can pray that this abortion doctor hears and receives that sort of mercy that transforms the direction and purpose of his life. We can pray for a "come to Jesus" moment that puts him on the right side of the Jericho Road.