Frances Kissling

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Frances Kissling (born 1943) is a scholar and activist in the fields of religion, reproduction and women's rights. She was President of Catholics for a Free Choice (founded 1973) from 1982 until 2007 when she turned over the reins to Jon O’Brien. She is now a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. She regularly contributes pieces to The Nation and The Huffington Post.

Early life[edit]

Kissling was born Frances Romanski into a Polish working-class family in New York in 1943, the oldest of four children.[1] Her mother divorced and later married a man named Kissling.[1] Inspired by the nuns at her Catholic school, she joined a convent in the early 1960s at age 19, but after just six months she left and enrolled in the New School.[1]

Pro-choice activism[edit]

Kissling became active in the women's movement in the 1960s. In 1970, after abortion was made legal in New York, she was asked to direct an abortion clinic in Pelham, which she accepted.[1]

In 1977 she was appointed founding President of the National Abortion Federation, a position she held until 1980.[citation needed] In 1978 she joined the board of Catholics for a Free Choice, and in 1982 she took over as president – a position she held for 25 years until her retirement in 2007.[1]

She supports public funding for reproductive health and abortion, and is the co-author of Rosie: The Investigation of a Wrongful Death.[2]

Kissling was a 2007–2008 Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute Fellowship Program, part of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. Her project while in residence was a book, How to Think about Abortion: Pro-choice Reflections on Rights and Responsibility.[3] She is currently a Visiting Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics.[4]

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