Please welcome,Dr. Willie Parker!
(cheering and applause)
Before we get into, really,everything that's in the book,
just give somebodywho has no clue
what is it like for a woman
who is trying to havean abortion in the Deep South,
you know, places like Alabama,Georgia, Mississippi.
If you're not familiarwith all of the barriers
that are in place,uh, the laws
that have been put into place,
even though abortion remainslegal based on the Roe decision,
uh, there have been lotsof hurdles p-placed
-in the path of women, um,-Right.
things like waiting periods.
In Alabama,it's a 48-hour waiting period.
Once you decide to havean abortion in Louisiana,
it's 72 hours.
Uh, in Mississippi, 24.
So there arelong waiting periods.
There are financial barriers.
Uh, those are justthe institutionalized things.
There's the stigmaand the shame.
Women are made to feel, um,
that they are doing somethingimmoral by choosing their lives
over the ambitionsthat other people have for them.
If someone were to counterand say,
"Why are you in such a hurry?
"Why not have a waiting period?
"Why not have 24 hoursor 48 or 72 hours
or any amount of timeto wait on?"
What would your response beto those people?
Well, it sounds good.Like, uh... it's a common...
It passes the common sense test,
but it's not informedby the reality.
Uh, there's not a womanthat I know who doesn't say
that when she peeson that stick and it's positive,
she says,"I'm pregnant, oh, great,"
or "I'm pregnant, oh, (bleep)."
And so, as a result, uh,
women have to...
uh, being forced to wait,
uh, to indulge somebody else'ssensitivities, um,
is to saythat we don't trust women
with their important decisions.
-And I just beg to differ.-(applause)
you talk about, in your book,how it took you 13 years,
coming froma very religious background,
to change how you vieweda woman's right to choose.
Why and how did you changeyour mind?
Well, uh, I've always been, uh,
but-- what I mean by pro-life--pro-life of the woman.
Uh, I've never been, uh, opposedto a woman making that decision,
but I was conflicted,because I wasn't clear
about what it meant to mepersonally to provide that care.
-Right. -So I had to think aboutmy religious understanding
and my religious convictiona little bit differently.
So, um, I-I think "pro-life"is a misnomer
for peoplewho are against abortion.
People who are opposedto abortion are pro-fetus.
Uh, I'm pro-life.I'm pro-life of the woman,
and you can't have moreof an interest in a pregnancy
that a woman's carrying thanyou have in the woman herself.
In-in the past six years,
there have beenover 300 abortion restrictions
that have been enactedby states.
This year alone, there have been
at least 46 anti-abortion billsthat have been introduced
or are pendingin about 14 states.
What's really interestingis you have compared this,
the control over women's bodies,
to slaveries,which, to many people,
would be a bombastic term.
Why would you say that?
I think if you've never livedwith your back to the wall,
it would be really, um,hard for you to understand
what it's like to have the mostessential aspect of your being,
the ability to make decisionsabout your lives... your life,
to have hopes and aspirationsand dreams,
-and to have that controlledby someone else. -Right.
Uh, I, as a man, will never facean unplanned pregnancy,
but I feel likeI'm in the same position
that Abraham Lincoln was
when someone asked him,"Why did you free the slaves?"
There are many reasonsthe Civil War was fought,
but I like it when he said that,
"As I would not be a slave,so I will not be a master."
As a man, I refuseto participate in a system
that would deny women the sameagency and the same right
to make decisions about theirlives that I have as a man.
You obviously face a lot ofopposition taking this stance.
Um, you know, traveling around,
helping women who don'thave access to abortions,
women who are forcedto travel to other states.
The president said,if a woman under Roe,
or if they change the laws,
is in a statewhere they don't allow abortion,
then she can just travelto another state.
Why is this such a big issue?
Well, the problemwith that is that, uh,
people in this countryunder our constitution,
everyone should haveequal access
and equal protectionunder the law.
So that meansthat one state is not free
to impose its responsibility
to ensure the health ofits citizens to another state.
-Mm-hmm. -The bottom line is,nobody's health
or aspirations should dependon their zip code.
And if you say that a woman canjust simply go to another state,
that sounds nice, but it's notinformed by the reality
that many women face hurdles,
and if the clinic's500 miles away,
it might as well bea million miles away.
Or if a woman doesn't havethe resources to travel...
Many women don't have theresources to travel in state,
let alone goingto another state.
So, I thinkit's a very callous statement
to say that, uh...
It's almost likeMarie Antoinette.
"Just let them eat cake."It's callous.
It's callous, and it doesn'ttake into account
the realities of the situationthat many women are in.
You spoke earlier todayabout why, on a day like today,
and this day every single year
has significant importanceto you.
Why is that?
Well, it occurred to me, Trevor,that this is April 3,
the day before my book launch,and when I was told
that the book would be launchingon April 4,
there's a tab set in my heart
around the factthat that was the day
that Dr. Martin Luther Kingwas assassinated.
So, it struck me that tonight,49 years ago,
was Dr. King'slast night on earth.
For me, what that means isthat I like to imagine
that I was the little kidliving in Alabama
who he had hopesand aspirations for
that my dreamswouldn't be determined
by the color of my skin.
And so, this book,
my career is reallya recognition
of the vitality of the movementthat he gave his life for.
tell an amazing story.
It is a beautiful book.
Thank you so muchfor being on the show.
-Thank you. Thank you.-(applause and cheering)
Life's Work will be availableApril 4.
Dr. Willie Parker.