Abortion physician lecture at MSU stays civil

Two Mississippi State University students talk with protesters outside of the venue where Dr. Willie Parker gave his presentation Thursday night. (Photo by Logan Kirkland, SDN)
Dr. Willie Parker, a physician working at Mississippi’s sole abortion clinic gives a presentation on Mississippi State University’s campus Thursday night. (Photo by Logan Kirkland, SDN)
Staff Writer

A controversial lecture at Mississippi State University went off mostly without a hitch Thursday night.

Dr. Willie Parker, a physician who has provided abortion and other health services to women in Mississippi and other states, including at Mississippi’s sole abortion clinic, presented a lecture titled “Abortion and the Christian Case for Choice.” The MSU Gender Studies Program presented the lecture in recognition of Women’s History Month.

Parker’s lecture was presented under heavy security, with all attendees passing through a metal detector on the way into the hall, and a strong MSU Police presence. The audience remained well-behaved throughout the lecture, with the exception of one attendee who shouted at Parker to “repent” before being escorted out of the hall. Small groups of protesters and pro-life organizations were also present.

“I think that the academy is a very important place to have this type of conversation,” Parker said. “It is a critical space, because we are at a time in our country where people will feel like it is their right to seize and to flaunt their particular identity over that of others.”

Parker emphasized his lecture being one singular view of the Christian case for reproductive health, as opposed to the sole view.

“I can talk about abortion in its various contexts, whether they be social, or whether thy be health issues, or whether they be a political issue, but unlike my critics, like the brother who was just ushered out, I cannot make the Christian argument for abortion, but I’m quite willing for you today to make a case and an argument for abortion as a Christian who derives the compassion to provide this care from my Christian understanding,” Parker said.

Parker said scientifically, life couldn’t begin at conception since it took both a living egg and a living sperm to create. He also said for many centuries, Christian theology did not consider life to begin with conception. He also said being pro-life was not the issue it was until the early 1980s and evangelist Jerry Fallwell’s Moral Majority. In addition, he said the first abortion laws in the U.S. were passed in the 19th century to protect women from the often-dangerous compounds used for the purpose at the time.

“My point is that as someone who holds a Christian identity, and as someone who provides abortion care in the light of that identity, I understand how people don’t agree with me, and I respect their views, but they have to understand that their view and their understanding is not the Christian understanding,” Parker said. “It’s simply a Christian understanding.”

A question-and-answer session followed Parker’s lecture and remained relatively civil.

Parker was featured in the documentary “Trapped,” and is the author of “Life’s Work: A Moral argument for Choice."

In response to Parker’s lecture, pro-life activist Christina Marie Bennett will speak on campus next week backed by MSU Students for Life and the MSU Catholic Campus Ministry.

MSU President Mark Keenum also released a statement on both Parker and Bennett’s lectures, acknowledging the controversy some speakers could cause and dispelling the notion of either lecture being funded with taxpayer dollars. He also said MSU’s pro-life organizations had been active, hosting more than 30 events, initiatives and meetings in the past few years.