JACKSON, Miss. (Christian Examiner) – Mississippi's only remaining abortion provider is claiming one of the physicians exposed negotiating the price of aborted fetal body parts in an undercover video is being unfairly persecuted – just as Jesus was.
Willie Parker, who works at the women's health clinic in Jackson, said in an interview with Cosmopolitan after the publication of the video that he knows Dr. Deborah Nucatola – subject of the first video produced by the Center for Medical Progress – very well and claims she is a "stellar abortion provider."
Nucatola was recorded discussing with actors portraying representatives of a fetal tissue procurement company how she could "crush above" and "crush below" to keep a fetus's heart, lungs and liver intact for sale. But Parker says the doctor, who dines on a salad and a glass of wine while dealing in body parts, is not callous.
"People know her and respect her. The person that she is and the commitment she has to this work tells me that when this is all settled down and when she has gotten her bearings, she is going to be able to engage and exercise the leadership that she's been engaged in. She's young. She's healthy. She's bright. She's going to continue to be committed to reproductive rights and reproductive justice. She's going to be fine," Parker said of Nucatola.
It is how Nucatola has responded after the video – making no public statement – that has the Mississippi abortion provider making a startling comparison based on his supposed "Christian religious understanding."
"I'm thinking about a strong parallel between what's happening to my colleague and the trial week of Jesus before he was crucified," Parker opined. "As he was marched from place to place, asked to answer allegations about, 'You say you're the king of the Jews. What do you say?' Many narratives said that Jesus simply did not respond. I think when people have an agenda to entrap you, nothing you say is going to do anything but further complicate the issue."
"As hard as it must be for my very spirited colleague who is very bright and who is very ethical and who is very noble to have to say nothing and have to defer to the organization that she works for to speak on her behalf, even if she could speak, I think the best thing for her to do is say nothing," Parker said.
This is not the first time Parker has associated the provision of abortion – a way to get people, and even Christians, out of "jacked up situations," as he calls an unwanted pregnancy – with Christianity.
In an interview with Esquire magazine in 2014, Parker said, "The protesters say they're opposed to abortion because they're Christian ... It's hard for them to accept that I do abortions because I'm a Christian."
In that interview, Parker said he chose the abortion industry after hearing a sermon on the Good Samaritan, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. asked what would happen to the man lying wounded on the road if no one helped him. He asked the same thing of women who did not have access to abortion, he told Esquire.
Then, it was easier for him to see abortion as part of the theological spectrum of liberation theology – a branch of black feminist theology were abortion was part of "reproductive justice."
In the Cosmopolitan interview, Parker said that his friend and colleague was the victim of a "hatchet job" in an unscrupulously edited video. But he admitted that he had yet to see the entire video, which is now posted online and which shows her words about selling fetal tissue were not taken out of context.
"I felt pain for her," Parker said, adding that it is right-wing, anti-abortion advocates who are in the wrong.
"To me, it's infuriating that people will take something as serious as a woman's need to have access to this care and decide that by any means necessary they will undermine that. It's unsettling. It's enraging," Parker said.
"For me, it makes me more resolute to continue doing my work. Dr. King said that the end has to be pre-existing in the means. In other words, there's no right way to do the wrong thing. The fact that there are no ethics, there are no scruples, in people who claim to hold the moral high ground and who seek to indict others for offering compassionate care that is accepted in general by the public, it is the ultimate irony. It is the ultimate paradox that you will deceive to bring about truth. I don't understand how that works."
Parker is the former director of Planned Parenthood's Washington, D.C.-Metro operation. He currently works with Family Planning Associates Medical Group in Chicago, but travels frequently to the South to conduct abortion procedures at the women's health clinic in Jackson. Parker calls the work his "abortion ministry."