Frances Kissling

Frances Kissling is a 2007/8 Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University where she is working on a book on ethics and abortion as well as publishing essays on current controversies in reproductive health and rights and feminism. She is currently a member of the board of Catolicas por el derecho a decider, Mexico, Ibis Reproductive Health, Change and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, the editorial advisory board of Reproductive Health Matters, the technical review boards of IPPF's Safe Abortion Fund and the Eurongos Small Grants Fund and the advisory board of the Women's Bioethics Project. She has served on the boards of the International Women's Health Coalition, Guttmacher Institute, and SIECUS and is one of three founders of the Global Fund for Women. Over her 38 years of work in the field of reproductive rights, Frances has been the director of several abortion clinics in the US and helped develop abortion services in Italy, Austria and Mexico. She was a founder and the first executive director of the National Abortion Federation. For 25 years she served as the president of Catholics for a Free Choice.

Kissling is a prolific writer, having co authored with Ellen Frankfurt, Rosie The Investigation of a Wrongful Death, contributed chapters in 8 books on reproduction and/or religion and produced over 120 articles, book reviews and op-eds for periodicals as diverse as the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, The New York Times, LA Times, SF Chronicle, Salon.com, The Nation, O Globo (Brazil), Debate Feminista (Mexico), Gazeta Wyborcza (Poland). Kissling has worked extensively in Latin America on reproductive health issues and lectured and conducted workshops in 35 countries.


All Work

Frances Kissling
Frances Kissling

Commentary Religion

On Contraceptive Coverage, It’s Not Up to Obama to Decide What is More “Catholic”

The President seems unaware of the fact that Catholics who matter have disagreed with the Vatican’s current prohibition on contraception. Catholics, including institutions within the Catholic community, are free to follow their conscience on contraception. It is not up to the Obama administration to decide what action is more “Catholic" on the matter of contraception.

Abortion: Anything New to Be Said?

Frances Kissling

An upcoming conference on abortion was inspired by President Obama’s call for those on different sides of the issue not only to work together where we agree, but also to engage in "vigorous debate" with "open hearts, open minds, and fair minded words."

The Positive Meaning and Value of “Choice”

Frances Kissling

Choice is a central component of the rational human being. It is especially important that we assert it for women whose choices are constrained by circumstances along with efforts to increase the circumstances that give women more choices.

The Answer to Stupak? Overturn Hyde Now

Frances Kissling

Our biggest defeat since 1973 was enactment of the Hyde Amendment and the lack of an uncompromising commitment to overturning it. If nothing else, we must now make overturning Hyde the single objective of our movement.

Family Planning is a Green Technology

Frances Kissling

Two hundred million women worldwide want to avoid pregnancy but lack access to contraception. Recent research suggests that filling this gap is a humane and cost-effective human rights and environmental strategy.

Ted Kennedy: A Death in the Family

Frances Kissling

Catholic tradition influenced Ted Kennedy the Senator and the man. But he did not wear his religion on his sleeve, instead grounding his commitment in the experiences of the poor, immigrants, women, LGBT persons and others.

What’s Wrong With the New Pro-Lifers

Frances Kissling

Amid proclamations that common ground has been reached on abortion, a new set of anti-abortion actors has claimed leadership of the movement. These good and decent people nonetheless lack understanding of women's nature and identity.

Common Ground? The Evidence, Please

Frances Kissling

Can we truly say we have found common ground on family planning when all we have done is found a few people who disagree with us on reproductive rights as human rights are able to support a bill that provides family planning funding?

Fighting Fake Common Ground

Frances Kissling

To have asked women to wait another day for Obama to reverse the global gag rule in order to satisfy the fake "common ground" is disrespectful of women's lives, let alone their moral autonomy.

Sarah Palin: A Fatally Flawed Feminist

Frances Kissling

Feminism is about women being seen as competent moral agents, not restricting the options and conditions women have to make the choice that is best for them. Feminists for Life and the policies of Sarah Palin miss the mark.

Progressive, Pro-Life and Full of Yourself

Frances Kissling

The Democratic Party Platform comes very close to embracing the reproductive health agenda that has been consistently advocated by the pro-choice, progressive women's movement. So why are "pro-life" progressives claiming victory?

“What If Your Mother Had Aborted You?”

Frances Kissling

Far too much is made of a mother's obligations to her children and far too little of a child's love for her mother. If fetuses could love, I think they would be as passionate in defense of their mothers as born children become.

Regarding Michelle’s Questions…

Frances Kissling

Preaching from the US about sexual and reproductive rights is not productive. Our own house is not quite clean enough. So we really need to link our domestic policies and their enforcement with our moral voice abroad.

Is This A “Bold” Plan?

Frances Kissling

Is Adrienne Germain's plan really a bold one? Only in the sense that the US is so far behind the curve on modern thought about gender, sexuality and reproduction that getting there with our current mindset is unthinkable. In this sense, it is a good plan for the 20th century, but I say let's be really bold and move to the 21st.

What the Hell Is Going On In Spain?

Frances Kissling

Why do I find the Spanish clinics' broad interpretation of "serious mental health risks" ethically problematic when I have no problem with the hundreds of doctors throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia that are routinely breaking the law and providing safe first trimester abortions?

I Love Roe

Frances Kissling

Roe v Wade was a visionary decision made in a country that was not ready for it. We need straight talk about access to safe abortion, pregnancy related health care, and safe delivery.

How Many Priests Does It Take to Release An Election Statement?

Frances Kissling

Frances Kissling is President of Catholics for a Free Choice.

Priests for Life claims to be "the nation's largest Catholic pro-life organization." However, in 2000, the group claimed a mere 13% of the nation's priests as members. Today, it reports no membership income on its tax returns and has lost even more ground among priests.

After more than 15 years trying vainly to grow his Catholic antichoice group into the mass clerical movement envisioned in its rhetoric, its leader, Frank Pavone, now finds himself banished to a Texan wasteland and able to count on a mere 2.5 percent of the nation's priests (some 1,000) as supporters.

His hagiographic campaigning style, with unapologetic electoral campaigning, and unabashed cooperation with some of the most militant antichoice figures, has led him from New York to Amarillo, Texas, where he broke ground on a seminary for his new order of priests, Missionaries of the Gospel of Life. On the same day, the Religion News Service reported the new order had only one member, Pavone himself.

Should Abortion Be Prevented?

Frances Kissling

Frances Kissling is President of Catholics for a Free Choice. This article appears in the Winter 2006-2007 issue of Conscience and also on Salon.com.

If abortion is a morally neutral act and does not endanger women's health, why bother to prevent the need for it? After all, the cost of a first-trimester abortion is comparable to the cost of a year's supply of birth control pills-and abortion has fewer complications and less medical risk for women than some of the most effective methods of contraception. This question has plagued advocates of choice since abortion was legalized. It has intensified in the face of antiabortion moralism about sex and responsibility, in the continued stigmatization of women who have abortions and in the increasingly expressed mantra that "there are simply too many abortions in the U.S." Frustration has led some advocates of legal abortion to dig in their heels and insist that any talk about preventing abortions denigrates women as moral decision-makers, misunderstands the reasons women have abortions, retreats from principled support for the right of women to choose abortion without government interference and tacitly lends credence to the contention that abortion is almost always morally wrong.

Antichoice Groups Put on Notice as IRS Revokes the Tax-exempt Status of Operation Rescue West

Frances Kissling

Frances Kissling is is the president of Catholics for a Free Choice.

Earlier this month, on September 11 to be exact, the IRS announced that it had revoked the nonprofit 501(c)(3) status of Youth Ministries, Inc., which did business as the vehemently antichoice Operation Rescue West (ORW). While the IRS does not provide information on the circumstances that lead to revocations of any group's tax-exempt status, a complaint filed by my organization, Catholics for a Free Choice in 2004 provided information on ORW's electoral activities during the Boston Democratic Party convention that we considered to be violations of IRS regulations.

The Vatican’s Condom Conundrum

Frances Kissling

Recent news that the Vatican might slightly relax its opposition to both condom education and provision as a way of preventing the transmission of HIV and AIDS has been greeted with optimism by the media as well as the international HIV and AIDS community. Of course, those of us old enough to remember the Vatican Commission on Birth Control—which was widely expected to change the church’s position on contraception in 1966—know not to get our hopes up. Then, the vast majority of commission members recommended that the Vatican approve of contraception for married couples and said there was no theological obstacle to a change. Four dissenting members went to the pope and cautioned that any change might erode the overall authority of the church and lead people to believe that other things could change. The pope followed the minority view and ruled in favor of authority over the health and needs of Catholic couples.

Rewire

All the latest news, analysis, and commentary delivered to you.

Subscribe

Rewire

All the latest news, analysis, and commentary delivered to you.

Subscribe