“I believe that as an abortion provider I am doing God’s work”—a small but insistent red flag waved in the face of an angry political opposition.
A fundamentalist Christian as an African-American youth in the Deep South, Parker had a road-to-Damascus moment when he “became enraptured with the idea of God’s radical, egalitarian love”—though, he adds, it took him time to sort through a lifetime of biblical literalism to gauge that while Scripture might be the work of God, it is also the work of a patriarchal culture in which men call the shots. As his medical practice with plenty of elements of ministry developed, Parker became an activist in defending women’s reproductive rights up to and including abortion, which has put him squarely in the path of a well-funded, powerful anti-abortion lobby. Some of this book is polemical, some an aspirational memoir that speaks of his hard struggle to achieve a medical education in the face of institutional resistance: “Poor children…are raised without a clear sense of their own horizons,” he writes, “but rather with a systematic suppression of possibility, and a literal lack of access to pragmatic information about how successful people get things done.” The polemical portion of the program is generally modestly argued, without much in the way of inflammatory rhetoric, though Parker is fully aware of what he’s up against; the 2009 murder of his friend and colleague George Tiller, as he recounts, was a pointed reminder, but not the first. Throughout, Parker writes without irony on the depth and authenticity of his own Christian belief, which he insists allows for his medical practice, especially as a means of providing health care to underprivileged women.
Valuable as both moral testimonial and as a medical memoir and sure to inspire heat as well as light.