Seattle nonprofit Shout Your Abortion really hit a nerve with its name. Founder Amelia Bonow took a lot of flak from self-described progressives when she started the organization. They supported its calling, they said, but then would hem and haw for a second before getting to the point: Isn’t it in bad taste, they’d stammer, to “shout” abortions?
They have it entirely wrong, of course. They think the name Shout Your Abortion is aimed at right-wing religious conservatives when in fact it has more to do with them. There’s a sanctimonious brand of liberal who likes to smugly proclaim that abortion should be “legal, safe … and rare.” Bonow and her cohort argue that this type of thinking helps no one. Here’s the thing: Abortion should be legal, period. It’s not your business why someone gets an abortion, and as soon as progressives allow themselves to stigmatize abortion. they’re ceding ground to opponents. Hence: shouting your abortion, and offending the polite progressives who don’t realize they’re hurting the cause with their reticence.
Until now, the best book about abortion I’ve ever read is Katha Pollitt’s Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, which made the case for abortion as a moral good and unveiled the secret anti-woman agenda behind anti-abortion organizations. Finally, we have another book worthy of a spot next to Pro: Dr. Willie Parker’s Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice.
Parker is a devout Christian and an unapologetic abortionist. He tells his story in his book, but makes sure to tell the stories of the women he’s helped first and foremost. The book has plenty of quotable, headline-making moments—Parker equates anti-abortion laws to slavery—and also builds a compelling argument for safe and legal abortion.
Parker recently told Newsweek that he believed he was “doing God’s work … [by] protecting women’s rights, their human right to decide their futures for themselves, and to live their lives as they see fit.” There, in conjunction with his description of the abortion clinic as “a woman’s world,” is the core of his belief. He is a man who trusts women enough to believe they know what’s best for their own lives, and he knows that when women have the agency to exist without fear of government intrusion into their most personal decisions, everyone is better off.
SYA is presenting Parker at a special Town Hall event this Tuesday, and attendance is required for anyone who thinks a woman’s right to choose is essential for the future of this country. At this special event to celebrate the publication of Life’s Work, Parker will be introduced by Seattle celebrity Lindy West, who helped Bonow get SYA off the ground, and interviewed by staunch SYA ally Martha Plimpton, who appeared most recently as the mom in the sitcom The Real O’Neals. Don’t expect anyone, onstage or in attendance, to be ashamed about their passion for a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion.
Town Hall Seattle, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255, townhallseattle.org. $15. All ages. 7:30 p.m. Tues., June 6. Paul Constant is co-founder of The Seattle Review of Books. Read daily books coverage at seattlereviewofbooks.com.