Dr. Willie Parker Speaks
The women wept.
The women cheered.
The women clapped.
“I feel free, for the first time in my life. I’ve never felt so free,” she said as she hugged me and wouldn’t let me go.
And the men wept, cheered and clapped too. “It’s my story too,” the father told me as he hugged and thanked me for bringing Dr. Willie Parker to Tulsa.“It’s so good to hear this spoken by a physician, a man… a black man. It makes me more confident that my views as a liberal, white woman are rooted in rational, authentically religious, and righteous ground.”
It was more than I needed to hear to know that bringing Dr. Willie Parker, a man who provides abortions because he is a Christian, not in spite of that fact, had changed the playing field in the buckle of the bible belt. But there was more.
The son of an All Souls member said, “They should have made other t-shirts too. For men and boys. I want one that says, ‘Her God. Her Body. Her Decision.’” It was almost too good to be true.
From the Friday evening cocktail party/fundraiser, to the Saturday afternoon reproductive loss training, to the Saturday evening panel, to Sunday morning worship — Tulsa, Oklahoma’s first-ever Reproductive Justice weekend was a phenomenal success. Dr. Willie preached two fabulous sermons. Let’s make them go viral!
The time is now. As our citizens become more aware of the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, let’s lift up the fact that heterosexual women also have the right to decide with whom they will have sex, and whether or not they will have babies.
As Dr. Willie taught us Tulsans, let’s turn the question of concern around. Ask not, “What will happen to me if I stop to help a woman in need?” Ask instead, “What will happen to the woman if I don’t stop and help?”
Jesus never felt the need to shame a woman. Why would anyone else, especially a Christian? Never forget the power of a positive no. The kind of no that leads to an even more powerful yes.
NO, every sperm and every egg, will not and need not become a baby.
YES, every child needs to be well cared for.
NO, every woman does not want or need to be a mother.
YES, many women will continue wanting to be mothers.
NO, every sexual act will not and need not create a baby.
YES, people will keep having sex to make babies.
NO, trusting women to control their own bodies will not lead to decreased population rates.
YES, trusting women to control their own bodies will increase women’s capacity to care for the children they have.
NO, choosing an abortion does not mean a woman will not have another child.
YES, a majority of women who have abortions are already mothers and will give birth to more children.
NO, choosing an abortion does not make a woman a monster, a murderer, or a slut.
YES, choosing an abortion often means a woman is taking responsibility for her life and whatever children she already has and plans to have in the future.
NO, women enjoying sex is not dangerous.
YES, women have a right to enjoy sex and be protected from pregnancy so they can.
NO, rich women don’t deserve easier access to reproductive health care.
YES, all women deserve equal access to basic health care, which means reproductive services.
Here’s another sermon on the subject, The Power of a Positive No.
The women and men wept.
The women and men cheered and clapped.
The gay, lesbian, transgender, and non-binary community members wept, cheered and clapped too. Because, finally, it all made so much sense.
Rev. Barbara Prose is a mother, a midwife and a minister. She is Executive Director of Ministry at All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, OK; and a member of the New Prophetic Sisterhood advisory circle.
My God, My Body, My Decision, Tulsa’s first ever Reproductive Justice Weekend, was held Nov 6-8, 2015 and sponsored by All Souls Unitarian Church, OKRCRC, and Hope Unitarian Universalist Church.