Star Parker and the Gosnell Controversy: She Still Doesn’t Get it

This is a partial cross-post from RH Reality Check. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! (And also, hello, everyone!) 

Star Parker penned an op-ed for Newsday recently that demonstrated a stunning lack of understanding about the real meaning of “choice” and attempted yet again to blame the abortion rate in the Black community on Planned Parenthood and Black women.

As I read her piece, I was initially heartened. She’s the only anti-choicer I can recall actually absorbing the pro-choice argument that women who lack access to safe abortion care will resort to unsafe abortion care—because if a woman doesn’t want to be pregnant, she’ll find a way to not be pregnant, by hook or by crook. Parker seems to get that. She writes:

Reports are coming in from around the nation indicating that more Gosnells are out there.

The abortion lobby claims that as long as we have tight regulations on abortion, a black market will exist. Abortion, they argue, is like any product or service that consumers want and government prohibits or overregulates. If they can’t get what they want legally, they will get it illegally.

We also hear that we get Gosnells when government refuses to pay for the abortions of poor women. The Hyde Amendment, which prohibits Medicaid compensation for abortion, makes unsafe abortion inevitable, they say.

According to this reasoning, poor women — desperate because of an unwanted pregnancy, pressed because regulations and costs make abortion difficult to get — turn to sleazebag doctors who will do it cheaply, with no regard for the woman, the law or safety.

Yes! That’s precisely right. The horrors that took place in Gosnell’s clinic are a direct result of policies that have been chipping away at the abortion rights established in Roe v. Wade. Gosnell’s sadistic and illegal abortion practices are the result of injustice in reproductive health care—women who have the right to abortion care but lack safe access.

Despite what anti-choicers would like you to believe, Gosnell is not the norm. He does not represent the type of care that anyone who is pro-choice advocates. He was a murderer and an opportunist who preyed upon the most vulnerable women who chose to terminate a pregnancy, but because of lack of health insurance, lack of public funding for abortion, and prohibitively stringent regulations that have forced abortion clinics to shutter their doors, found themselves with no place else to go. So yes, desperate women will turn to “sleazebag doctors” like Gosnell who have no regard for women’s health, the law, or safety.

By George, I think Star’s got it! But, no, not really. Parker continues:

But it is ironic that those who call themselves “pro-choice” argue that the only alternatives facing low-income women are unsafe abortions done by sleazebags or government-subsidized abortions.

There is another choice, but those who call themselves don’t want women, particularly poor women, to consider it.

This option is called birth.

So close, Star. So close. But, alas, close doesn’t cut it when it comes to respecting women’s right to bodily autonomy.

The point of the term “pro-choice” and the work that pro-choice activists do is to ensure that “choice” encompasses all choices. The choice to have children. The choice to have children when you want to have them. The choice to stop having them after you already have them. It’s the choice to decide for yourself.

Indeed, it’s the same choice Parker made when she chose to have four abortions. Whether or not she regrets those abortions, the fact of the matter is: pro-choice advocacy and the laws which Parker seeks to overturn enabled her to make those choices. And now she would deny those choices to other women because she’s had a change of heart. Now she thinks all women should be forced to give birth against their will. That’s not right. It’s not right and it’s not fair.

Moreover, it’s not reality-based. Women who don’t want to be pregnant will find a way not to be pregnant. Women in Texas are already heading across the border to Mexico to obtain RU-486. “DIY” abortions are on the rise. Simply telling women to “choose birth” ignores that some women simply don’t want to have babies, and no amount of regulations or counseling will change those women’s minds. Choice doesn’t mean “choose birth or choose birth.” That’s not a choice. That’s a mandate. That’s a directive. And that’s a violation of women’s rights as humans.

[read full post at RH Reality Check]

***This post is a follow up to one I wrote a couple weeks ago about Star Parker’s Gosnell press conference.

58 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    Hi Imani. Missed you here. That said,

    attempted yet again to blame the abortion rate in the Black community on Planned Parenthood and Black women.

    Aren’t Black women responsible for 100% of abortions in the Black community?

  2. 2
    Emma says:

    If there’s anyone that drives me round the bend it’s women who had choices and want to deny them to other women.

  3. 3
    Baud says:

    I always thought those “Choose Life” bumper stickers were kind of stupid for this reason.

  4. 4

    @Baud: Abortions are, but the abortion rate has a lot to do with conservative policies against contraception, public funding for abortion, lack of healthcare, etc.

    (Thanks!)

  5. 5
    Baud says:

    @Imani Gandy (ABL):

    Ah, I see. Thanks.

  6. 6
    wenchacha says:

    She has chosen to have four abortions herself? She lived through four legal abortion procedures, but she’s more concerned that we stop abortion so other women don’t have that same opportunity.

    That’s a lotta balls, and not in any good way.

  7. 7
    Cassidy says:

    Damn. Show up out of the blue and cross post! Damn.

  8. 8
    Yatsuno says:

    @Imani Gandy (ABL):
    :: squees ::

    :: grabs Imani by the jubleys ::

    O HAI!!!

    (Read this on your FB earlier this morning. Dayum you took her down nicely.)

  9. 9
    mai naem says:

    People take Star Parker seriously anymore? Maybe I’ve got her confused(Ican’t keep track of all the panel kind of talk shows) but isn’t Star Parker the one who got canned from The View because of the wedding where she was taking endorsement deals for stuff used in the wedding?

  10. 10
    burnspbesq says:

    This is not complicated. At least not if you’re old enough to remember the 1960s.

    Until it’s their sorority-girl daughters and nieces bleeding out, conservative white America still has the option of not getting it.

  11. 11
    ruemara says:

    I just keep hearing “Parker Posey” and recalling her performance in “House of Yes”. I see Star Parker is as well reasoned and logical as Jackie-O.

  12. 12
    Citizen Alan says:

    Was Star Jones the one on the View who didn’t know the Earth revolved around the Sun and didn’t think it important for anyone else to know?

  13. 13
    👽 Martin says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Until it’s their sorority-girl daughters and nieces bleeding out, conservative white America still has the option of not getting it.

    They didn’t even get it then. They always had the money to send their kids off to Canada or Europe. Maintaining the master race status requires always keeping a boot on the neck of the Others. There are lots of different kinds of boots one can use…

  14. 14
    ruemara says:

    @Citizen Alan: No, no. That was the Alternate Black Lady of Chunk. Kerri Washington? Sherri Washington? Rather an unfunny type, but nothing is worse than Token Black Lady of The Daily Show. That’s some serious unfunny right there.

  15. 15
    ruemara says:

    @Citizen Alan: No, no. That was the Alternate Black Lady of Chunk. Kerri Washington? Sherri Washington? Rather an unfunny type, but nothing is worse than Token Black Lady of The Daily Show. That’s some serious unfunny right there.

  16. 16
    Suzanne says:

    Yaaaaay, ABL is here.

    Until dudes are forced to start donating their organs without their consent, I really never want to heard another word uttered about restricting choice in the public sphere.

  17. 17
    Suzanne says:

    @ruemara: Sherri Shepherd. In contrast, Kerry Washington is a GOOD actress.

  18. 18
    Dee Loralei says:

    YAY! It’s ABL!

  19. 19
    Glidwrith says:

    I’ve decided that ‘forced birthers’ simply doesn’t convey the depths these people have sunk to. I like ‘forced breeders’ or ‘forced breeding’ better for their depravity.

  20. 20
    Mnemosyne says:

    Star Jones was on “The View,” followed by Sherri Shepherd (who was much better, and funnier, on “30 Rock”).

    Still not sure who Star Parker is, except that she’s a conservative pundit.

  21. 21
    WereBear says:

    There’s been some excellent unpacking of the Xantian attitude over at the Slactivist and related blogs on the site. For instance, I went to a Christian Academy, Southern Baptist, for seventh grade and not one word was said about abortion.

    And believe me, they weren’t shy about telling us what to think.

    This whole “reverence for life” thing they are supposedly so devoted to didn’t happen until many years after Roe v. Wade. It’s a talking point, a money raiser, and a political club.

    And I guess the women-killing is just a bonus.

  22. 22
    Corner Stone says:

    Star Parker,…Star Parker…
    Star…..Parker…..
    Hmmm.

  23. 23
    Corner Stone says:

    Damn. Ain’t Greenwald said anything lately you can grift off of?

  24. 24
    👽 Martin says:

    @WereBear: Southern Baptists were still calling for expanded access to abortions well into the 70s. They were clearly pro-choice until the anti-abortionists took control of the GOP and alliances were built between the GOP and the churches.

  25. 25
    beth says:

    Women who don’t want to be pregnant will find a way not to be pregnant

    I nearly died of surprise at a Christmas gathering when family gossip revealed my most devout, Catholic-mass-every-morning- attending grandmother had given herself a broom handle abortion about 80 years ago nearly causing her own death. They’ve always done it and always will.

  26. 26
    Bruce S says:

    Who is Star Parker? That person on The View was Star Jones, right?

    “Until dudes are forced to start donating their organs without their consent, I really never want to heard another word uttered about restricting choice in the public sphere.” Excellent point. So Star Parker is a dude? Doesn’t really matter I guess.

  27. 27
    ruemara says:

    @beth: Wow. That’s a “holy shit” and a “holy cow I am so sorry” story.

  28. 28
    Bruce S says:

    Okay – sorry. I’m up to speed on “Star Parker.” I clicked a link and learned she’s some perennial book-peddler who uses vanity political candidacies to promote herself, apparently appears on FOX News as a prized token black person and “Parker also happens to be a former welfare recipient and single mother who has talked publicly about her four abortions, all of which occurred before she became a born-again Christian and subsequently attended college for a degree in marketing.”

    Not an impressive resume, but that degree in marketing is where she really fucked up her life with no likelihood of turning back or turning around.

  29. 29
    WereBear says:

    @Bruce S: Could she have gone to college with FIVE children? I mean, some can, but it makes it more than five times as tough.

    Nice little racket she’s got running.

  30. 30
    Linda Featheringill says:

    @burnspbesq:

    If you have money, you don’t have to bleed out. Teenaged girls from prosperous families used to have D&C procedures for “menstrual irregularities.” Probably cash up front but it was likely quite safe.

  31. 31
    👽 Martin says:

    @Bruce S: I dunno. She’s done pretty well marketing herself.

  32. 32
    Bruce S says:

    @👽 Martin:

    Yeah – which proves my point. She’s doomed herself to marketing crap. Not pretty.

  33. 33
    angelfoot says:

    @beth: I’m a guy. I grew up Catholic (lapsed, very very lapsed.) I remember having a discussion about abortion with my mother, WHO IS A LIVING SAINT, GOD BLESS HER, a stay at home mom who bore six squalling brats, the last one of us born before a few years before Roe was decided. And she admitted that while she believes life begins at conception, she didn’t know what she would’ve done if she’d become pregnant again. The thought of her* being subjected to a butcher like Gosnell is all I need to know to choose sides in the abortion debate.

    *Or my sisters or any of my friends.

  34. 34
    Chris says:

    @WereBear:

    This whole “reverence for life” thing they are supposedly so devoted to didn’t happen until many years after Roe v. Wade. It’s a talking point, a money raiser, and a political club.

    When you’ve seen them stand up and cheer on Ron Paul euphorically when he proclaims that people who don’t have health insurance should just fucking die already, the idea that “reverence for life” is any kind of a leading concern for these people is just fucking ridiculous. Whatever the fuck it’s about probably varies a bit from person to person, but it’s never been about human life.

  35. 35
    👽 Martin says:

    @Bruce S: Eh. Almost all marketing people market crap – lots of crap out there to be sold. Star only has to sell one thing – her soul – and she’ll be set for life from the entire conservative enterprise desperate to hear their current message spoken by a black woman.

  36. 36
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    There is another choice, but those who call themselves don’t want women, particularly poor women, to consider it.

    This option is called birth.

    Riiiiight

    http://community.babycenter.co.....in_the_usa

    Presumably she means poor women should give birth in a ditch by the side of the road, for free.

  37. 37
    👽 Martin says:

    @Phoenician in a time of Romans: Hate to clue her in, but California has quite a large population of poor Latina Democrats that have been having lots of kids. 72% of kids born in California are non-Caucasian. Over 50% of kids born here now are Latino. African Americans are having the same number of kids as Caucasians.

    So, sounds like it’s whites that aren’t exercising their options here. (I had 2 by the way, so I’ve done my share.)

  38. 38
    Joseph Nobles says:

    My mother became pro-choice the day her friend in high school died after self-aborting the fetus her friend’s daddy had put in there. There is only one sane way to get rid of Gosnells: access to safe and legal abortions.

  39. 39
    👽 Martin says:

    @Joseph Nobles: My conservative mom is quite pro-choice. I’m certain that there’s a story there. I don’t know what it is, though. Lots of secrets in my family:

    Age 14: Surprise! You have an aunt nobody told you about, so you have another cousin who’s your age! Well, actually you know her, but you didn’t know she was your aunt because your grandmother put her up for adoption after her first marriage which was annulled. Oh yeah, your grandmother was married once before your grandfather.
    Age 15: Surprise! That cousin you just learned about was also adopted!
    Age 16: Surprise! I know you’ve only known me as your adopted cousin for 2 years, but I’m gay and haven’t told anyone else in the family yet. What should I do?
    Age 27: Surprise! You have yet another cousin nobody told you about, who is also your age! Oh, and she’s half black, was given up for adoption and was just reunited with your aunt. Oh, and your aunt was married once before your uncle married her. Oh, and your friend from the other side of the country went to high school with her and knew her really well, so if you want to know anything about her, don’t ask your family because we don’t know shit yet. Please take good notes so we can learn about our new relative.
    Age 31: Surprise! Your wife has a half brother she didn’t know about! Oh, and her dad was married once before her mom.
    Age 36: Surprise! Your wife has another half brother she didn’t know about! Oh, and her dad was married once before the marriage before her mom.

    So, there’s got to be lots more secrets out there.

    I have no secrets. I actively lead a life dedicated to not fucking up the people around me.

  40. 40
  41. 41
    karen says:

    @WereBear:

    Yes that’s exactly right. The dead women are a feature, nothing more. It’s punishment. Women deserve to die. Just like all women who do not dress completely covered or who have sex before marriage deserve to be raped. Notice, the men get carte blanche.

  42. 42
    karen says:

    @Phoenician in a time of Romans:

    Presumably she means poor women should give birth in a ditch by the side of the road, for free.

    No. She means that poor women should hand their babies over to rich women…specifically, rich WHITE women. Once they sign the contract then the rich women will pay those hospital bills, guaranteeing the best care for THEIR baby. Once the baby is born THEN they’ll toss the poor birth mother on the side of the road.

  43. 43
    Seanly says:

    I am fervently pro-choice. But there is more to Gosnell than just abortion. There are numerous underground markets for health & dental care in poor, minority & immigrant communities. Most of these aren’t licensed, have little or no formal medical training & no safety or hygiene standards.

    We need to just junk our healthcare system. Shit, we can even copy the German system which has a lot of private insurance, but at least everyone gets some kind of coverage. I’d gladly pay an extra 5% on my taxes so the insurance companies don’t take 15%.

  44. 44
    Steeplejack says:

    @👽 Martin:

    Interesting piece by Fred Clark about how abortion was ginned up as an issue to cover the real issue, which was that the segregated private Christian schools had their tax-exempt status pulled. They needed something where they could say, “The Man is oppressing our religion!,” and “We don’t like Negroes” didn’t sound very, uh, Christian.

  45. 45
    matt says:

    So this idiot person thinks someone chose abortions for the people who used Gosnell’s office? Is she just an idiot who has no experience with reality or what?

  46. 46
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Emma:

    It’s not only that they had choices, they cannot put themselves in the shoes of the other woman.

    Strictly from an economics perspective, choosing birth is far and away the most expensive option. Now, if you’ve got a law degree and a Village gig, that doesn’t seem to you to be very oppressive, but it’s a different story altogether when your income is derived from physical labor such as housekeeping chores.

  47. 47
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Chris:

    the idea that “reverence for life” is any kind of a leading concern for these people is just fucking ridiculous.

    Well, yes, because the entire thing is about punishing the sluts.

  48. 48
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    “Indeed, it’s the same choice Parker made when she chose to have four abortions.”

    IOW, IGMFY.

    So Parker took a course in marketing (herself) and then traded public welfare for wingnut welfare and we’re supposed to think that she is some kind of success story that others like her could emulate themselves?

    No, the teaparty has a limit.

    @Corner Stone:

    I just wanted you to know that I think that on your best day you are still a racist piece of shit.

    It’s been a while and I didn’t want you to forget.

  49. 49
    Central Planning says:

    @👽 Martin:

    I actively lead a life dedicated to not fucking up the people around me.

    Or to put it another way: I actively lead a life dedicated to not fucking the people around me. Egads, you have an interesting family tree!

  50. 50
    cvstoner says:

    Basically, you can make any choice you want, as long as its birth.

  51. 51
    Imani ABL says:

    @Cassidy: i know. and i didn’t even bring a bottle of whisky. i am shame.

  52. 52
    RSA says:

    Late to the thread, but…

    Indeed, it’s the same choice Parker made when she chose to have four abortions.

    I’m thinking that someone who is trying to criminalize abortion and who has an abortion in her past might set an example by submitting to a prison term. (There are plenty of countries in the world that could accommodate her.) If she’s committed what she views as murder, she should do no less, right?

  53. 53

    Where the hell have you been? Glad to see you back again. And who the fuck is Star Parker? I mean, yeah, I’ve heard of her, but why does she have any kind of platform to spew this shit, any more than any random nut who stands around on the sidewalk howling and roaring and gibbering? I guess it’s that she’s a black woman. If any whote dude wrote this same shit, he’d never get it published anywhere. Conservatives shriek and moan about that pernicious affirmative action, but they worse than anybody else. What are the odds that Clarence Thomas or Tim Scott would have made it to where they are today if they’d been white?

  54. 54

    @RSA:

    Oh, now, let’s not go nuts here and ask that conservatives hold themselves accountable for what they’ve done wrong, or show any kind of integrity. She did a bad, bad thing, but I bet if you asked her, she’d tell you that she deeply regrets it, that it haunts her to this day, and that she’s asked forgiveness from her Personal Lord and Savior, and He told her that, hey, it’s all water under the bridge, live and learn, and that her deep regret is more than enough punishment, and that she can do far more for The Cause, to say nothing of her Personal Lord and Savior, if she stays out of jail and points at motes in others’ eyes while ignoring the beam in her own. That’s what Free Market Jesus told her, i bet anything.

  55. 55

    African-American women actually have a *higher* unplanned birth rate than white women, along with their disproportionately high abortion rates–both due to their much higher unintended pregnancy rates (compared to white women).

    This Guttmacher infographic illustrates the point: http://www.guttmacher.org/medi.....ties2.html

    All this in turn reflects broad and persistent disparities in other health outcomes (from HIV to diabetes) and social and economic inequities more generally.

    (Full disclusure: I work at Guttmacher)

  56. 56
    rikyrah says:

    ABL,

    I’m about to be harsh.

    Parker was ok with abortion when she availed HERSELF of the abortion clinics..

    but, since she found Jesus, she’s decided that what was good enough for HER shouldn’t be allowed for any other woman.

    I’ve gone my entire life so far without needing an abortion.

    I hope to not be in a position where I feel I need one.

    But, I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let some Jesus freak determine what can happen with MY BODY.

  57. 57
    RevRick says:

    Serving in the denomination (United Church of Christ) that affirmed women’s right to choose in 1971 (two years before Roe v. Wade), this is more than just a denial of human rights. It is a denial of the essential personhood of all women. After all, the ability to make choices is what defines us as human beings. Basically, the so-called pro life movement says that women are incompetent as moral choosers and the rest of us therefore have both the right and duty to force women to make the “right” choice. And doesn’t that belief pretty much define the word tyranny?

  58. 58
    RSA says:

    @Zapruder F. Mashtots, D.D.S. (Mumphrey, et al.):

    She did a bad, bad thing, but I bet if you asked her, she’d tell you that she deeply regrets it, that it haunts her to this day, and that she’s asked forgiveness from her Personal Lord and Savior, and He told her that, hey, it’s all water under the bridge, live and learn, and that her deep regret is more than enough punishment, and that she can do far more for The Cause, to say nothing of her Personal Lord and Savior, if she stays out of jail and points at motes in others’ eyes while ignoring the beam in her own.

    I think you’ve nailed the argument, in all of its glory.

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