The same notions of moral fitness and intellectual capability were asked of black people, when they were once enslaved. So I find strong parallels to the very paternalistic thinking of, women can’t be trusted. We trust them to have babies, we trust them to go to war, we trust them to drink alcohol, we trust them to buy guns, but we can’t trust them to decide whether or not to end a pregnancy. Just rings a little hollow to me.
Khazan: The idea with that is that you would still see a doctor to get the prescription for the abortion pill, right?
Parker: Well, not necessarily.
Khazan: How would it work?
Parker: Women right now [are] accessing the web for regimens of how to end pregnancies without the supervision of the medical system or without the scrutiny and the harassment of folk who are opposed to their decision. The question is, if those medications that are safe and are accessible, and women can make that decision, that may be where we’re going.
Khazan: Do you mean over the counter?
Parker: There’s technically no reason why a person who is appropriately instructed around using a medication, like, we trust people ... Probably one of the most dangerous drugs over the counter is Tylenol. And yet we don’t question people’s ability to go to the store and to get Tylenol for its appropriate use.
Khazan: I just want to be sure I understand, would they be able to buy the pill over the counter or would they need a prescription? Or is it more like the morning-after pill?
Parker: That’s a health-services question. That’s a question that will be reflected by our collective values, our ability to monitor the safety of medications. What I’m intentionally avoiding giving you is what my personal opinion would be about how that system should be structured.
Khazan: You don’t want to give your opinion?
Parker: No, ’cause with my opinion and $5 you can get a Starbucks coffee. The notion that I’m saying, “Abortions for everybody, just kinda do your thing,” I’m not saying that. There’s a way to create medical literacy so that people understand how to make decisions about the situation that they’re facing. And I think what I’m pushing back against is the additional scrutiny that’s imposed on this issue, because it's unique to women.
Khazan: Something that I’ve heard a lot from abortion opponents is this idea that, because so many African American women have abortions, some of them have taken this up as a sort of a Black Lives Matter kind of cause, in that if black lives truly matter, then black women should be discouraged from getting abortions. What do you make of that argument?
Parker: I think it’s very interesting that all of a sudden black lives and the lives of black women, black babies, matter and that the loudest voice is coming from nonblack people. The women that I see, they’re advocating for having more resources to control their lives, not less. They place abortion in the context of the things that help them fulfill their reproductive destiny.