A remarkable trend has emerged in the results of the recent American election for the Senate and the House of Representatives: never before have so many pro-life political women been elected to office.
In the Senate, six pro-life women will serve for the incoming Congress (with a possible seventh, if Kelly Loeffler from Georgia wins a run-off in a second voting round in early January).
In the House, all 11 sitting pro-life women candidates were returned, with at least 17 new pro-life women added. Nine have overturned seats previously held by abortion rights politicians. In California, Young Kim won in Orange County – the first Korean-American to serve from that state.
The majority, although not all, of these female politicians are Republican. Katrina Jackson, a Democrat who is strongly associated with the pro-life cause, won a seat in the Louisiana state senate.
New York is famously liberal, but in South Brooklyn, Nicole Malliotakis “flipped” a Democrat seat for Congress. Ms Malliotakis – just 40 – is regarded as a rising star and could be a future White House contender. She has said that “faith values played a huge role” in her success. Her father is Greek Orthodox, and her mother a Cuban Catholic, but she received electoral support from religious communities across the board, including Orthodox Jews.
This surge in pro-life women getting elected has been substantially supported by an enterprising initiative called “The Susan B Anthony List” which sponsors women politicians with prolife views. It was originally set up because a previous lobbying group for women, “Emily’s List”, excluded prolife women. (The British version of “Emily’s List”, launched by Barbara Follett, effectively excluded Catholics.)
Susan B Anthony was an early feminist, in the days when the movement drew on its Christian and anti-slavery roots. The SBA list was founded in 1993 by the sociologist Rachel McNair , and is today headed by Marjorie Dannenfelser and Jane Abraham.
It’s been energetically supported by the indispensable New York-based Human Life Review, edited by Maria McFadden Maffucci and Anne Conlon – in an all-woman editorial operation (for the Human Life Foundation).
Amy Coney Barrett, the newly appointed pro-life judge in the Supreme Court, and mother of seven, was also supported by the HLR, as the ultimate “working mom”.
This is a form of pro-life feminism we don’t hear much about on this side of the Atlantic, but Stateside, it’s evidently flourishing.
The celebrity psychiatrist Anthony Clare – famous for his Radio 4 programme In the Psychiatrist’s Chair – died of cardiac failure in 2007, aged 64. Now an official biography has been published, written by Professors Brendan Kelly and Muiris Houston (and endorsed by Joanna Lumley, who calls him “hugely treasured … I could not have liked him more”).
Professor Clare, who was a serious clinical psychiatrist, pioneered a new form of interview on radio and TV, with subjects including Glenda Jackson, Ann Widdecombe, Stephen Fry, Bruce Kent and Spike Milligan. He came nearer to cracking the façade of Jimmy Savile than any other interviewer, describing Savile as “calculating and materialistic”. From Edwina Currie he solicited a moving disclosure about how her father never spoke to her after she married out of the Jewish faith. Clare had particular empathy for people with depression.
The biography, Psychiatrist in the Chair, records that the most enduring influence on Tony Clare was a Jesuit priest, Fr Joe Veale, who had taught him at Dublin’s Gonzaga College.
“To understand Clare,” write the authors, “it is necessary to understand Veale.” Fr Veale inspired generations of schoolboys to read widely, debate openly, embrace philosophy and continue in lifelong spiritual and psychological development. Joe Veale “had a decisive influence on Clare not just as a child, but throughout his life”, doing much to inspire Clare’s “intense engagement with public debate, profound curiosity about human nature and an endless desire to help others”.
Tony Clare, who with his wife Jane had seven children, was religious as a youth; then “wavered” in his faith, calling himself agnostic. But in later years “he found that his loss of faith left him with an emptiness that he struggled to fill” and he developed a revived religious sensibility. His biographers conclude that “God, it seemed, returned to Clare” – before his life so suddenly ended.