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Life's Work: A Moral Argument for Choice

4.56  ·  Rating details ·  1,272 Ratings  ·  217 Reviews
In Life’s Work, an outspoken, Christian reproductive justice advocate and abortion provider (one of the few doctors to provide such services to women in Mississippi and Alabama) pulls from his personal and professional journeys as well as the scientific training he received as a doctor to reveal how he came to believe, unequivocally, that helping women in need, without jud ...more
Hardcover, 217 pages
Published April 4th 2017 by Atria / 37 INK
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Apr 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I saw Dr. Parker on The Daily Show and was so grateful for his impassioned advocacy of women's rights to agency and choice. I look forward to reading this.


I've finished the book, and I long for EVERYONE to read this book. Dr. Parker, in a series of essays, tells us about who he is and what his faith has meant to him and how his faith impacted and even initiated his life-change to being an abortion provider. He discusses science and medicine behind abortion, the history of Christianit
Mary Lou
Apr 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Actually, 3.5 stars.....although I disagreed with some of the reasons why people (particularly white men) are pro-life, Dr. Parker gives a compelling argument for choice and I don't disagree with him.
I read the book because Dr. Parker is a born again Christian (as am I) who is also an itinerant doctor performing abortions under the strict letter of the law in 3 southern states. In Mississippi, there is only one abortion clinic. I wanted to see why he did what he did, as simple as that.
I just ca
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I admit that I went into this book totally biased by my admiration of Dr. Parker and his work, so maybe on its own it's really a 4-star book. But it's amazing and he is a hero and everyone should read it, so 5. I really appreciated how much he opened up about his own faith journey and how he had a change of heart about his practice, but never looked back after the realization was made. He talks a lot about his admiration of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his desire to live his life in service to ot ...more
Rachel León
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, read-in-2017
PSA: Everyone should read this book.

I knew I'd love this book when I read the description. Abortion is such a hot-button issue and people tend to feel very strongly about it. I'm no exception. It's one of the social issues I care most about because it's so heavily under attack and yet has life-long impacts on people's lives. I work in social services and see the devastating effects of what happens when women not emotionally capable of raising children are forced to have babies they don't want.
Clinton Wilcox
May 08, 2017 rated it did not like it
It's not often I give a book a one star rating, but this book deserves it. I only have so many characters, so this is going to be an abridged review. You can find my full review on Amazon or on the Life Training Institute blog.

Life's Work: A Moral Argument for Choice by Dr. Willie Parker is a new book defending abortion rights by an African-American doctor who is a self-proclaimed "Christian" (the reason for the quotes around Christian will become evident below). For all the lip service Parker s
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Approximately one in three women in the United States will have an abortion in her lifetime. It could be your sister, your daughter, your wife. It could be you. Look at your female friends and know that even if they don't speak openly about it, one of them has likely terminated a pregnancy.

Abortion is legal in the U.S. With so many people wanting the service, clearly it's necessary, but it's not always easy to obtain one. With emotionally charged personhood legislation popping up in state govern
With Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice, Christian reproductive rights advocate and abortion service provider Dr. Willie Parker provides an insightful view of the relationship between faith and medical services. Early in the book, Parker notes, “Experience is what you do with what happens to you,” and he builds Life’s Work around his experiences as a “materially challenged” African American growing up in the South in the 1970s. By weaving together his own story with theory and practice, he ...more
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The author of this book, a devout Christian who is also an abortion provider and advocate for women's health, has written a book everyone should read. I'll loan my copy if you're interested.
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is such a controversial issue in America that it is valuable to have a book by someone who is both a Christian and an abortion doctor, so he can talk about both sides and maybe shed some light instead of just making more noise.

It would have been nice to have a bibliography. That is not strictly necessary for a memoir or for a "moral argument" but a major part of the argument is the author's claimed reliance on scientific truth. The reader shouldn't have to take that on faith.
I am not religious, but I was really curious to read an argument for choice from a self-proclaimed born-again Christian -- and I'm very, very glad I did. This book is not only deeply moving, but well reasoned and informative (even if you think you have a pretty good understanding of how abortion works). Initially, I thought the pull quote on the front from Gloria Steinem - "I wish everyone in America would read this book" - seemed a little hyperbolic, but after reading it? I wholeheartedly agree ...more
Sharon Tjaden-Glass
I was expecting to read a strong argument for the right of women to decide their futures, and I got that.

But Willie Parker does much more than that.

For me, his most surprising insight came from his assertion that the recent cultural trend to treat motherhood as sacred has helped to build the case against abortion rights.

He's right. Parenthood, particularly motherhood, has not always been the sacred calling that undergirds so many of mothers' conversations today. As Jennifer Senior writes in h
Tessy Consentino
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Everybody should read this book!
Lauren Munoz
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was already predisposed to like this book, as I think Dr. Parker is nothing short of heroic, but I was surprised to find in its final pages a version of religion that seems pretty wonderful, leaving me with hope that the book may not only change a few minds on abortion, but may even inspire some Christians to practice a better version of their faith. It's an accessible, quick read that provides plenty of scientific and experience-based information, and even though I am well-informed on reprodu ...more
May 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abortion
This dreadful book from an abortionist contains a number of inaccuracies and lies, as well as a lot of flimsy justifications for murder. He claims to be a champion of women but sends a teenager back to an incest situation without reporting it. But I did get some fodder for future articles. I did like that he was honest about looking at the arms, legs, and body parts of aborted babies after abortions and reassembling them to make sure the abortion was complete. At least he didn't sugar coat that ...more
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Important and inspiring. Dr. Parker is a gift and his perspective is invaluable.
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a very readable, earnest memoir which I would recommend that everyone read.
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I would like to say THANK YOU to Dr. Parker (just in case he reads these?). Thank you for writing this and thank you for the work you do. I reserve 5-star ratings for books that are not only well-written and engaging, but also IMPORTANT and contribute to my understanding of the world.

This book is one of the top three most important books I have ever read.
May 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Some parts of his argument were stronger than others, but in all, I felt this was a very informative read, and a solid indictment of how the church treats the poor and minority women. Also fascinating (which I have also seen corroborated elsewhere) is that abortion was not such a clear watermark as to who is an evangelical Christian and who is not until Reagan was campaigning.
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
No matter which side of the debate you stand on, this is a MUST read. This book holds a unique and honest perspective. It is thoughtfully written and will challenge you to evaluate your beliefs around this issue and their origins.
Robin Richardson
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I keep telling people that if I had read this book when I was younger, maybe even in high school, I would have been on a different track. This book was so compassionate and thoughtful, and it helped me feel like I wasn't so alone in wanting to believe in Christianity but also believing in reproductive rights.
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love the way that Dr. Parker explains his care for women. His approach to the abortion issue is nuanced and most importantly loving. Dr. Parker takes the time to highlight the many ways that women are viewed as incapable of making their own reproductive decisions. His absolute commitment to protecting a women's right to choose her own path resonates deeply with me. Dr. Parker arrives at this position largely with his christian faith in tact if not strengthened.
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism, memoir
I come from a very different background and faith tradition from Dr. Parker, but his book deeply resonated with me. It is a political, moral, and religious explanation of his work as an abortion provider.

This book will not convince those who believe that abortion is murder and that is the end of the story, as the one star reviews here show. But many of us do not live in such a black and white moral world (and, Dr. Parker says, this belief is relatively recent for Protestants). I grew up believi
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This memoir is just what the title says: a moral argument for choice. Dr. Willie Parker is a black Christian doctor and feminist that is an advocate for allowing women to make their own reproductive decisions. The main points of the book hinge on the supposed conundrum that Dr. Parker is a Christian and an abortion provider. Raised by a poor single mother in a small Alabama town (just miles from where I grew up!), his world view is shaped by his early Christian conversion and the presence of str ...more
Elizabeth A.
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Being an RN who has worked in labor & delivery, maternity, postpartum--I have been in the room when the arrival of an infant is joyous and when there are tears of worry and concern. How will I care for this child. How will I feed this child. Willie Parker talks his deep faith in God and his deep faith in his work--being a doctor who provides abortions for women in southern states where there is ONE clinic to service them. Parker reveals his life story from being raised in the South in a neig ...more
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I admire Willie Parker so much, and this book only raised him in my esteem further. The connections he makes between the pro-life movement and white supremacy and the liberal elevation of motherhood as somehow miraculous, rather than primal and biological, were really provocative and important. If we insist that motherhood is somehow sacred here in liberal Los Angeles, then we are helping the Mike Pences of the world in their endless attacks on abortion rights.

Plus, his journey from extreme pov
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism, memoirs
THIS BOOK IS INCREDIBLE. A must read for anyone - whether pro-choice or not, but especially, especially if you are Christian. Dr. Willie Parker is many things: an OBGYN, a Christian, a Black man in America, someone who overcame poverty - but at his core he is a modern day hero - performing abortions on women who need them in the South. He speaks eloquently about his path to the work he does, and the ways in which he feels he does God's work by providing abortion care. Reading this book I honestl ...more
Kelly Poe
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: alabama
Wow. I got this book thinking it would be about abortion, and it is. It's also a book about race, and it's a book about Birmingham (Parker was the first black student body president at Ensley High School!), and more than that, it's a book about Jesus. Not only is Parker an evocative, clear writer that made for an enjoyable read, "Life's Work" gave me a tremendous amount of information I didn't know about the history of the abortion rights battle. Truly a must read, especially if you're from Alab ...more
Ana ☾
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, read-in-english
Abortion is the only personal decision that is subjected to this level of goverment oversight.

Honestly, this book was fucking excellent. Every point and argument Willie Parker had was on point and if I had had the physical copy believe me when I say that most of the book would have been highlighted.

More startes require waiting periods before obtaining an abortion than buying a gun or getting married.

One of the main reasons why I read this book was because Parker is a Christian (I want to cla
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I can hardly articulate why this book is so important and necessary. Suffice to say, Parker goes through the most vital misconceptions and false campaigns used to target Planned Parenthood and abortion in general.

As we had a HUGE display on our college campus this fall, purporting to shed light on the 'genocide' of abortion, his chapter on black genocide was really welcome and illuminating. He explains anti-choice groups who prey on women of color with false narratives in order to eliminate abo
Scott Labott
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Dr. Parker covers so much, working seamlessly between his own life and his life's work. It touches on the physical realities of abortion, the history, the rhetoric and Dr. Parker's philosophy.

I'd recommend it to everyone of course; but specifically I'd recommend it to those who only have a cursory knowledge of abortion. And particularly those who are left-leaning and sympathetic to "the issue." This book has reminded me how deeply it is an issue of justice, not just politics.
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“It is my personal belief that the abhorrence of abortion expressed by the men who place themselves at the barricades in front of abortion clinics is actually a misplaced horror at women’s sexual autonomy. It stands to reason: women’s sexual independence is the thing that men have always wanted to control. But for the women in the abortion clinic waiting room, the sex itself is history and totally beside the point. They are here to pursue their lives. Every” 3 likes
“It was not lost on me, an African American man from Birmingham, Alabama, descended from slaves, that new legislation aimed at telling women what they might and might not do with their own physical bodies looked a whole lot like men owning women’s bodies.” 3 likes
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