She’s been labeled “the radical right’s Asian pitbull,” was called a “vile, hateful commentator” by fellow talking head Geraldo Rivera in 2007, and has been referred to as a hateful, right-wing bigot and conservative wackjob by those on the political left.Michelle Malkin

To those on the right of the political spectrum, she’s one of their “brightest columnists and bloggers,” a “highly sought after commentator and author” willing to “expose liberals,” and challenge their views.

Michelle Malkin takes the criticism and praise in stride and says at the heart of her outspokenness is her Catholic faith, something she holds dear and something that guides her daily in her decision making.

“I absolutely consider myself Catholic. Catholicism has had a profound influence on my work choices and it drives what I decide to do every morning,” said Malkin in an interview with the Catholic Herald, April 16, at the Wisconsin Center, where later that evening she spoke to about 900 people attending Wisconsin Right to Life’s annual dinner.

Faith and family helped shape her strong pro-life stance, she said, explaining, “the sanctity of life has definitely been one of those areas that has been a focus of much of my work and it’s not just a matter of faith for me.”

Describing her father, Apolo DeCastro Maglalang, as an old-school father, Malkin said he was a pediatrician and neonatologist for some 40 years.

“He was not very talkative about the work he did. He was a very humble man and it was not until much later that I came to appreciate what it meant to support the sanctity of life which was something my father did every single day,” she said.

During her presentation later that evening, Malkin described an experience that motivated her Filipino-born father to leave his country and come to the United States to pursue a medical degree.

As a youngster, he and his mother were traveling to the doctor on a noisy three-wheel vehicle typical in the Philippines. His mother had just given birth to his youngest sister and it had been a difficult birth. His father asked his son to hold the baby as they traveled.

“Sometime on that long ride to the clinic, he realized that his baby sister had been born stillborn and if there had been better facilities, she might have lived,” said Malkin, explaining how that experience led her father to choose a career in medicine to help others avoid that horrible experience.

“Boy did I feel awful about ever resenting what my father did for a living,” she said referring to times he worked long hours taking away from family time. “He was an old-school dad who did not brag about what he did for a living. He was a practitioner, not a preacher, but he was someone who walked the talk about saving lives,” she said.

Whether it involves the beginning or end of life, Malkin said she is determined to use whatever platform she has to speak out on the sanctity of life.

“It will always be part of my mission to use whatever platform God has given me to speak up for the voiceless, to speak up for people who have shown the courage of their principles,” she said.

Malkin, 44, who was born in Philadelphia and moved to Absecon, New Jersey, after her father began medical training, attended Holy Spirit High School where she edited the school newspaper. She planned to become a concert pianist and enrolled at Oberlin College intending to pursue a bachelor’s degree in music, but changed her major to English.

After graduation, she began her journalism career as a columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News from 1992 to 1994, later working as a columnist for The Seattle Times. She became a nationally syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate in 1999.

She also became a frequent commentator for Fox News Channel and a regular guest host of The O’Reilly Factor.

The author of four books, with another, “Who Built That: Awe-Inspiring Stories of American Tinkerpreneurs,” to be released May 19, Malkin has concentrated on writing, blogging and public speaking in recent years.

The Colorado Springs, Colorado, resident is also mom to two children, Veronica, 14, and J.D., 11. Married to Jessie D. Malkin since 1993, Malkin told the Catholic Herald that faith is a central part of her family’s life – although her children are being introduced to many faiths. Jessie is Jewish, his older brother is evangelical Christian and his sister is an Orthodox Jew.

“Definitely the children are exposed to a full range of religious diversity and that’s always a delicate balance. As an interfaith couple, we have the best of both worlds and emphasize those first principles that we hold dear and have in common,” she said, adding one of those is the sanctity of life.

Admitting it can be tricky in the Malkin household to balance the faiths, she said the family celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah “and when they are old enough to pick one, they will pick one,” she said of the children, adding in confident Malkin fashion, “and I hope it’s mine!”

While Malkin said faith is an integral part of her daily life, she admitted that she has disagreed with church leaders in at least one area: immigration.

“I have strong views on immigration and I’m decidedly at odds with church leaders on this issue,” she said, adding it’s been a personal quandary.

While Malkin said she doesn’t take for granted the generosity the United States has shown in terms of immigration, especially to people fleeing religious persecution, she said she does not believe “you can have a functioning country if you do not have functioning borders.

“I think absolutely we should show compassion to people coming here, seeking refuge, but we can’t take everybody. It’s not a tenable position.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) opposes “enforcement only” immigration policies and supports comprehensive immigration reform. In “Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope,” a January 2003 pastoral letter on immigration, the bishops outlined elements of their proposal for comprehensive immigration reform.

Prior to Malkin’s presentation at the dinner, Heather Weininger, executive director of Wisconsin Right to Life, said over a 33-year period, the state has seen a 70 percent decrease in abortions from 21,754 in 1980 to 6,462 in 2013.

She noted there were 465 fewer abortions in 2013 than in 2012 and the state continues to have far less than its neighboring states. In 2013, Illinois had 40,750; Michigan, 26,120; Minnesota, 9903.