Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Tomorrow, Frances Kissling, who has led Catholics for a Free Choice for more than two decades, will resign. Jon O’Brien, executive vice president of CFFC, will take over as president. Neela Banerjee writes in Backing Abortion Rights While Keeping the Faith (NYT 2/27/07):
Frances Kissling has been called the “philosopher of the pro-choice movement” by her friends and an “abortion queen” by her critics.
But the name Ms. Kissling wears most defiantly, to the consternation of many religious believers, is Roman Catholic. For 25 years, as president of Catholics for a Free Choice, she has angered the church hierarchy and conservative Catholics by criticizing fundamental teachings on sex.
“I’m so Catholic, I can’t get away from it,” said Ms. Kissling, who was once in a convent. “How I construct concepts of life, of justice, it all comes out of being Catholic.”
Though unknown to most lay Catholics, she has inspired and worked with politicians and activists, many Catholic, to speak out in favor of giving women access to abortions and to artificial contraception.
On Wednesday, Ms. Kissling, 63, will step down from her post, relinquishing her role as one of the most vocal of the so-called bad Catholics, those who manage to accommodate the opposing sentiments of love for the church and anger at much of its doctrine.
From CFFC's press release:
Kissling will be honored at a tribute on March 2 in Washington, DC, which will feature noted author Anna Quindlen, Representative Rosa DeLauro, Global Fund for Women President Kavita Ramdas and Sara Seims of the Hewlett Foundation. The event is chaired by Kissling’s closest colleagues and friends, Kate Michelman, former president of NARAL Pro-choice America, and Marysa Navarro-Aranguren, the chair of CFFC’s board of directors.
Frances Kissling and Catholics for a Free Choice remind us of the diversity of views on abortion and contraception not only among different religions, but among Catholic believers.
For more on pro-choice religious perspectives, see: Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (click on "What Does Your Religion Say?").