Do you consider yourself to be of a specific faith?
Yes, I'm a Roman Catholic, and the things I most appreciate about Roman Catholicism is its solid, long-standing, unabashed commitment to the truth. I'm actually a convert to Catholicism, from mainline Protestantism. The things that led me to convert were the church's bold, countercultural stances on controversial issues like abortion and contraception.
Forty years after Roe v. Wade, many commentators are saying not much has changed: America is still divided almost evenly on abortion. Does the pro-life movement need new tactics?
I think the momentum is slowly but surely in the direction of the pro-life cause, because of a couple of things. One is the influence of technology, the fact that you can see your baby on the ultrasound screen within a matter of weeks. You can see it and hear its heartbeat, and that's incredible. The generation before kind of had that, but it's standard maternal care now. And there's a whole other range of things that help make it real for women that this is a life inside the mother.
The Washington Examiner's weekly Q&A on faith and values.
The second reason is that the pro-life movement has really started to be much more effective about framing. I think they're increasingly framing this as a civil rights issue, which it is. They're playing on the same turf as the big social movements in history. I think they're getting a lot better at pushing back on the whole idea of whether abortion is empowering to women. They're framing it as a women's issue by focusing on gender-selective abortion.
You have a 7-month-old baby. How has being a mother changed your perspective on pro-life issues?
I've been very pro-life all my life. But one thing that surprised me a little bit is I found myself being more empathetic to women who struggle with being a mom, because it's very difficult. It's truly the most difficult thing I've ever done, and I'm a very type-A, neurotic overachiever. It just pushes you in a way that's hard to describe. And America and especially urban areas are just not mom-friendly. I've always been surrounded by go-getter women, and it's just not something that's encouraged. I'm not saying I'm empathetic to abortion, but I can see how our culture has made it such that abortion can thrive in many respects. Women are made to feel that they're less of a woman for being a mom, which is totally the reverse of what it should be.
At your core, what is one of your defining beliefs?
What really animates my work and writing is the very sort of Catholic notion that all people are endowed with inherent dignity and inherent desire to know the truth, and that it's essential that religious freedom be protected and be a central pillar of every society, that religious freedom be afforded to all people because it gets to the root of what makes us human. It's our desire to know and explore the truth and do what is good and right.
- Liz Essley