Leslie Cannold

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Leslie Cannold
Leslie Cannold at TEDxCanberra 2012 about abortion

Leslie Cannold (born 1 April 1970 in Port Chester, NY) is an Australian philosopher, ethicist, educationalist, writer, activist, and public intellectual.

Born and raised in Armonk and Scarsdale, New York, Leslie Cannold migrated to Melbourne in her early twenties.[1] She began writing for The Age as an opinion and education section columnist while raising young children and completing her graduate degrees.

A non-fiction author and novelist, Cannold is a familiar voice and face on radio and TV in Australia. She is on the speaking circuit giving keynotes and hosting panels on ethics, gender politics, inspirational leadership and reproductive rights. In 2005 she was named one of Australia's top twenty public intellectuals by The Age newspaper.[2] In 2011 Cannold was awarded Australian Humanist of the Year by the Council of Australian Humanist Societies.[3]

Education and career[edit]

Educated at Wesleyan University where she studied psychology and theatre, she has a Master of Arts and a Masters in Bioethics from Monash University where she worked for Peter Singer at the Centre for Human Bioethics.[citation needed] She earned her PhD in Education at the University of Melbourne before commencing employment at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics when C. A. J. Coady was director.[4] As of 2011 she maintains adjunct positions at both universities though she left academic employment in 2006 to pursue writing and public speaking full-time.[citation needed]

Cannold is oft-noted [5] as one of Australia's leading public thinkers and women. In 2005, she was named alongside Peter Singer, Gustav Nossal and Inga Clendinnen as one of Australia's top 20 public intellectuals.[6] In 2013, she was named in the Power Index's Top Ten List of most influential brains.[7]

Books and columns[edit]

Cannold's fortnightly Moral Dilemma column[8] has appeared in Sydney's Sunday Sun-Herald since 2007. Prior to that she was an occasional columnist for The Age. Her opinions have also appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, Crikey!, The Herald Sun, ABC The Drum Unleashed, The Courier Mail, and the national broadsheet The Australian. In 2011 she was recognised with an EVA for a Sunday Age opinion piece on sexual assault.[9]

Her books include the award-winning[10] The Abortion Myth: Feminism morality and the hard choices women make[11][12] and What, No Baby?: Why women are losing the freedom to mother and how they can get it back,[13] which made the Australian Financial Review's top 101 books list.[1] Her first work of fiction, The Book of Rachael,[14] a historical novel, was published in 2011 and reprinted in 2012. She publishes on diverse subject areas including grief, circumcision, HIV/AIDS, genetic manipulation, ex utero gestation and regulating Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs). She published chapters in Sperm Wars[15] (2005) and The Australian Book of Atheism (2010).[16]

Radio and television work[edit]

Cannold's radio and TV appearances include ABC Radio National, triple j, Today Tonight, The 7:30 Report, A Current Affair, The Catch-Up, The Einstein Factor, SBS Insight, 9am with David & Kim, The Circle, Today, ABC News Breakfast, News 24 [17] and Lateline.

For many years she talked life, work and ethics with well-known radio and TV broadcaster Virginia Trioli on 774 ABC Melbourne and was heard regularly on Radio 4BC and Deborah Cameron's morning show on 702 ABC Sydney. As of 2013 she talks ethics with Angela Owen on ABC Central West and is a regular panellist on ABC TV's political talk show Q&A[1] and on ABC TV's Compass.[18]


Cannold is past president of Reproductive Choice Australia, a national coalition of pro-choice organisations that played a key role in removing the ban on the abortion drug RU486 in 2006 and of Pro Choice Victoria, which was instrumental in the decriminalisation of abortion in Victoria in 2008. In 2011 she co-founded the not-for-profit speaker referral site No Chicks No Excuses.[19] Her Ted talk on abortion has more than 35,000 views [1] and in 2016, she spoke to around 6000 activists from 169 countries [2] at the International Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen about abortion stigma.

Personal life[edit]

Cannold identifies herself as a secular Jew.[20] She has two sons.[21]


  1. ^ a b c "Panellist: Dr. Leslie Cannold". Q&A. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  2. ^ "Brain Power". The Age. Melbourne: Fairfax Media. 18 April 2005. Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  3. ^ Media Release, Council of Australian Humanist Societies, 16 March 2011
  4. ^ "Leslie Cannold". 
  5. ^ http://www.theaustralian.com.au/high-education/opinion/a-public-role-for-intellectuals/story-e6frgcko-1225967178615
  6. ^ http://www.theage.com.au/news/Education-News/Brainpower/2005/04/18/1113676693627.html
  7. ^ http://www.thepowerindex.com.au/thinkers-agenda-setters/leslie-cannold
  8. ^ "Leslie Cannold – National Times". Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  9. ^ "The EVA Media Awards". Retrieved 15 June 2011. 
  10. ^ "Award Winning Wesleyan Books". Archived from the original on 31 May 2010. 
  11. ^ Cannold, Leslie (1998). The Abortion Myth: Feminism morality and the hard choices women make. St. Leonards, N.S.W: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86448-522-1. 
  12. ^ Cannold, Leslie (2000). The Abortion Myth: Feminism morality and the hard choices women make. Hanover, N.S.W: University Press of England. ISBN 0-8195-6377-3. 
  13. ^ Cannold, Leslie (2005). What, no baby? : why women are losing the freedom to mother, and how they can get it back. Fremantle, W.A: Fremantle Arts Centre Press in partnership with Curtin University of Technology. ISBN 1-920731-88-1. 
  14. ^ Cannold, Leslie (2011). The Book of Rachael. Melbourne, VIC: Text Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1-921758-08-9. 
  15. ^ Cannold, Leslie (2005). "'Walking wallets and one-stop sperm shops': How men fear that women see them in the postmodern reproductive age". In Jones, Heather-Grace.; Kirkman, Maggie. Sperm wars : the rights and wrongs of reproduction. Sydney: ABC Books for the ABC Broadcasting Corporation. ISBN 0-7333-1542-9. 
  16. ^ "The Australian Book of Atheism". Archived from the original on 13 December 2010. 
  17. ^ "Silicon Valley egg plan no revolution: Ethicist", ABC News, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 16 October 2014, retrieved 9 December 2015 
  18. ^ "Leslie Cannold: Ethicist and writer". Compass. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 9 December 2015. 
  19. ^ "No Chicks, No Excuses". Radio Adelaide. Adelaide. 16 February 2011. 
  20. ^ Cannold, Leslie. "The First Cut". Cannold.com. Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  21. ^ Sullivan, Jane (2 April 2011). "Resurrecting the lost sister". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 7 April 2011. 

External links[edit]