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Life's Work: A Moral Argument for Choice Hardcover – April 4, 2017
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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"Life’s Work is a vivid and companionable memoir of a remarkable life." (The New Yorker)
“…the most crucial text we have on the subject of choice…read Dr. Parker's book cover to cover and then pass it on, so that we're all prepared for the next moral argument with grace and power.” (Lena Dunham for Lenny Letter)
“Uniquely informed, extraordinarily empathic, and faith-deepened. At [the] crossroads, Parker determined that the truly Christian thing to do regarding unwanted pregnancy is to give women the help they need.” (Booklist, STARRED review)
Parker writes from a place without judgment, and his voice resonates with compassion that is far too often lacking in discussions of abortion. A thought-provoking read of many sides of the issue. (Library Journal, Starred Review)
"At Planned Parenthood, our motto is 'care, no matter what' — words that might as well have been written with Dr. Willie Parker in mind. At a moment when reproductive health and rights are under attack like never before, Dr. Parker's book is a beacon of hope and a call to action. In it, he transcends politics and cliche to show readers the world through the eyes of a doctor who approaches his work with humility, compassion, and defiance. Life's Work is inspiring, surprising, and very much needed. This book will change lives."
(Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America)
"It says something deep about Life's Work and its author, Dr. Willie Parker, that you learn first not about him, but the women he serves as patients. As a poor southern boy who became a great doctor, he shows us how race and sex bias limit and kill, how possible it is to undo that bias with kindness, and how Christianity might actually include women. I wish everyone in America would read this book." (Gloria Steinem)
“[A] compelling memoir…a must-read for policymakers, reproductive-rights activists and anyone who’s had trouble articulating their support for a woman’s right to choose.” (Ms. Magazine)
“Dr. Willie Parker shares with readers in his powerful and insightful memoir, Life’s Work, that “the abortion clinic is a woman’s world.” With keen insight and passion, he allows us to see that world through the eyes of a compassionate, caring male doctor—one who loves justice, who cares about female agency, who embraces gender equality, who believes women should have access to reproductive justice, and that includes abortion. Whether you are pro-choice or pro-life, this is a book that everyone should read. It offers us a clear and compassionate understanding of what all woman and girls face as we claim our right to make decisions about our bodies.” (bell hooks, author of All About Love: New Visions and Feminism is for Everybody)
“Dr. Willie Parker’s compassion and respect for his patients, as well as his profound commitment to social justice, shine through this beautifully written memoir. This book puts to rest the notion that a deeply held religious faith is incompatible with a staunch support for legal and accessible abortion. Life’s Work will be an eye-opener for those not familiar with the fortitude required to be an abortion provider in the contemporary United States, especially in the South. For those already committed to reproductive justice, Dr. Parker’s account of his journey will serve as a much-needed source of renewed inspiration, as this beleaguered field faces new challenges in the Trump era.” (Carole Joffe, author, Dispatches from the Abortion Wars: The Costs of Fanaticism to Doctors, Patients and the Rest of Us; professor, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, University of California, San Francisco.)
“Dr. Parker’s story is a wonderful account of how his belief and faith in both God and in humanity has led him to provide abortion: a medical service that is chastised by some as the evil. He explains in the most compelling way how, inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s telling of the story of the Good Samaritan, he has felt unable to turn away from women in need of help. Dr. Parker is a hero of our movement and, as a truly compassionate Christian advocate of women’s choice. I challenge everyone who believes that abortion doctors must be ‘bad’ and immoral, or self-interested and profiteering, or privileged and exploitative, to read this book. Dr. Parker speaks from his heart and his words can’t fail to touch the heart of every reader.” (Ann Furedi, author of The Moral Case for Abortion and CEO of British Pregnancy Advisory Service.)
About the Author
Dr. Willie Parker sits on the board of institutions at the forefront of the fight for reproductive justice, including as the chair-elect of the board of Physicians for Reproductive Health. He is the recipient of Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Award, an honor also bestowed upon Hillary Clinton and Jane Fonda, and appeared on Ebony’s Power 100 list. He has been featured widely for his work, including in Slate, Jezebel, Cosmopolitan, NPR’s Morning Edition, Salon, and more. While a fascinating profile on Dr. Parker in Esquire sparked national interest in 2014, he is now the subject of Trapped (Trilogy Films), a documentary about the legal battle to keep abortion clinics in the South open.
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If you are a pro choice this will simply reinforce your beliefs. If pro life then it might seem seem oxymoronic that a physician could claim to be a Christian from a fundamentalist background and also be a abortion provider. That is what makes it a good book for the lifers to read. The book is short on science, short on philosophical argument, and short on Biblical quotes. (Which by the way for the lifers out there the Bible despite all the rhetoric is amazingly quiet about a subject that seems to define the Evangelical mvnt.)
What Dr Parker does is approach the subject from the viewpoint of the woman seeking an abortion. Her, needs, her fears, her aspirations, her wishes, her health, etc. These are sorely neglected in the pro life rhetoric that I keep hearing. It so seems that the label pro birth rather than pro life would be much more appropriate. The woman that is pregnant appears to be merely the carrier of the "life" they want to protect. Her needs and values need to be brought into the discussion and this book does a good job of doing so.
That being said I was left wanting more. More ethical arguments and perhaps more compassion and non-judgemental tone to those who wrestle with this question and come to a different decision. I long to hear his thoughts on compassionate Ob/Gyn doctors that do not practice abortion but support a political environment where it is freely and safely available. I found throughout the book that he touted a non-judgemental stance while pouring judgement on those on the "anti" side. That being said I have no way of imagining the righteous anger and frustration Dr. Parker goes through, and the unique viewpoint he has on the issue given an upbringing that could not be more different than mine. I cannot fault him for not writing a book perfectly catered the questions I am currently asking. This is a book for the secular and person of faith alike - and is strong because of that. But as a Christian, I craved more attention to the ethical and faith arguments surrounding the agency and/or importance of sexual responsibility.
I finished the book with many new questions to ask myself and those around me. I finished the book with the understanding that my current belief could be wrong. All good things.
Dr. Parker offers a lot of good information about abortion and the barriers that are being put into place to limit access to safe abortion care for women. His book is very accessible and he makes the medical and legal information in his book easy to understand.
It was really inspiring to learn that Dr. Parker was originally pro-life on the basis of his faith. Reading that he was able to reexamine his beliefs and come to see that being pro-choice is not unchristian has given me hope that some people in my life can also change their minds.