By Taylor Brown Associate Editor
On Thursday November 10th, Berea College alumnus Dr. Willie Parker ’86, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist visited campus as a convocation speaker. Dr. Parker is a reproductive justice advocate who graduated with an MD from the University of Iowa, a Master’s of Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health, and a Master of Science from the University of Michigan. Throughout Dr. Parker’s presentation he explained that he performed abortions for women because of his faith, not despite his faith. His presence was accompanied by pro-life protesters on campus, displaying graphic images of aborted fetuses to students passing by.
Rodney Kimbaugu ’20 says, “Right now I’m divided because he has very strong arguments. According to my beliefs, not as a Christian, but as a human, I feel hurt. I imagine myself being in that situation as a fetus with my mom not having a problem at all and just aborting me. But after talking to him after the convocation, he does it, not for people who just want to abort, but he does it for people who need the abortion.”
Logan Smith ’17 says, “I think he did a really good job of sharing his perspective in a way that was respectful to those that saw it differently than him. I’m a pro-choice Christian because I think other people should be able to have that choice even if I still don’t honestly know what I would do in their position. I really appreciated his good Samaritan reference for this reason, because he is shifting the issue off himself and is asking what other people need.”
During his presentation, Dr. Parker repeatedly referenced the story of the Good Samaritan, saying that rather than thinking of what would happen to himself if he helped this person, he thought about what would happen to this person if he did not help them.
Smith goes on to say, “Hearing about the real women he worked with really helped put things into perspective for me. Healthcare should be a human right, but we don’t treat it that way. I think it is inspiring that he is fighting for women who too often don’t get the privilege to make their own decisions for their own bodies.”
Monica Moran ’19 says, “I will not deny that there are many sticky situations to these circumstances, and I value women’s choice, but I also value life in a nonselective fashion; this also includes the life of babies. It is not right to give people the right to pick and choose who ‘has the right’ to live or die.”
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Dr. Parker speak. He was eloquent and prepared, and delivered his speech in a way that made his points clear. I really appreciated his statement “Where all think alike, not many think too much.”
His statement is implying the crucial need of diversity of ideas. When people are exposed to a different way of thinking, they given an opportunity to expand their knowledge of contrasting perspectives which will force their mind to expand which i think is a good thing.
During the Q&A session, Dr. Parker accepted comments and answered questions as well as emphasized to the students that he was in no way seeking to disrespect or embarrass anyone, even those who strongly disagreed with his viewpoint. One thing I noticed during the Q&A session is that people were repeatedly asking questions that Dr. Parker answered throughout his entire presentation; it makes me wonder if they were zoning out at different parts of the convocation.
To those who chose not to believe that he was a Christian because of the work he does, Dr. Parker said during the convocation, “You may disavow your relationship with me, but I’ll never disavow my relationship with you. I’ll just let that be sibling rivalry.”