Does House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who describes herself as a “devout Catholic,” really deserve to be denied Communion? As her archbishop has pointed out, both he and his predecessors have tried for decades to reason with her. And this investigative report will show that Pelosi’s adamant opposition to the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of innocent life is unmistakable.
In 1984, Mario Cuomo, the self-identified Catholic governor of New York, gave a landmark speech at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. His remarks paved the way for dozens of pro-abortion Catholic politicians who followed him.
“As a Catholic I accept the church’s teaching authority. As Catholics, my wife and I were enjoined never to use abortion to destroy the life we created, and we never have,” he said. But after making the case against abortion, he dropped the kicker: “Not everyone in our society agrees with me and Matilda.”1
He trotted out the same tired fallacies: we can’t make abortion illegal even if we try, nuclear weapons and homelessness are just as important as abortion…
By the end of the speech, Cuomo had written a new playbook for pro-abortion Catholic politicians to assuage their cognitive dissonance: they could be personally pro-life and politically pro-abortion. Prominent Democrats from John Kerry to Tim Kaine and Joe Biden have used the line ever since.
But there’s one who has never used it. She has never even acknowledged the conflict between her Catholic faith and legalized, unlimited abortion on demand.
In fact, she celebrates abortion in the name of her faith.
Her name is Nancy Pelosi.
What follows is a report on Nancy Pelosi’s decades of unrepentant support for unlimited abortion through the moment of birth, paid for by taxpayers.
During her 35-year tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives, Pelosi has consistently voted for – and as Speaker of the House, pushed others to vote for – some of the most extreme abortion legislation ever conceived, and against the most basic, common-sense protections.
Pelosi has been adamant in her opposition to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. The bill outlawed the barbaric abortion procedure euphemistically known as intact dilation and extraction (D&E). During a D&E abortion, the baby is partially delivered feet-first halfway out of the birth canal, then stabbed at the base of the skull. Next, an abortionist vacuums out the baby’s brain. The ban was passed in 1995 and 1997 by large bipartisan majorities, but vetoed by President Bill Clinton. Finally, in 2003, it was passed for the third time and signed into law by President
George W. Bush. Nancy Pelosi voted against the ban all three times,2, 3, 4 and in 2007 she condemned the Supreme Court for upholding it.
In 2021, Pelosi voted in favor of the Women’s Health Protection Act, a new bill which would wipe out all state and local abortion restrictions and impose unlimited abortion until the moment of birth on all 50 states. As a custom, the Speaker of the House does not typically vote on legislation unless her vote is needed to gain a majority. Pelosi was so dedicated to passing this legislation that she voted yes on the bill even though it would have passed without her vote.
Pelosi has repeatedly voted in favor of federal taxpayer funding for abortion. She voted four times against the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which passed the House each time with bipartisan support, in 2011,5 2014,6 2015,7 and 2017.8 She has blocked the bill from coming up for a vote since becoming Speaker of the House again in 2019. She has long targeted9 the Hyde amendment, a prohibition on taxpayer dollars being used for abortions. The Hyde amendment had been added to every federal spending bill since 1976.10 In 2021, she ushered a bill through the House which eliminated Hyde amendment protections for the first time in 45 years.11
Pelosi has voted against the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a bill to prohibit late-term abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, when science clearly shows that unborn children feel excruciating pain during abortions. Pelosi voted against the bill in 2013,12 2015,13 and 2017,14 and has blocked it from coming up for a vote again since becoming Speaker. She has also twice voted against and blocked the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, a bill to require medical care for babies born alive after a botched abortion.15, 16
Pelosi supports legal abortion for any reason. In 2012, she voted against the Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act, a bill to prohibit abortions performed because of the sex or race of the baby.17
In 2014, Pelosi received the Margaret Sanger Award, the highest honor of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion business in the United States.18 The award is named after Planned Parenthood’s foundress, who was a eugenicist, racist, and bigot who had complete contempt for the Catholic Church.19 Pelosi is also associated with NARAL Pro-Choice America,20 and regularly gets a 100% voting score from NARAL in their annual scorecard for members of Congress.21 Pelosi has also consistently received a 0% rating from the National Right to Life Committee and other pro-life watchdogs.22
Pelosi has explicitly invoked Catholicism to support abortion many times over the years. In so doing, she has often mocked pro-life Catholics and even the pope. Here is a non-exhaustive collection of moments when Pelosi spoke about abortion, Catholicism, and the Church.
In an interview with the Seattle Times, Pelosi mocked pro-life Catholics.
“The very idea that they would be telling women the size, timing or whatever of their family, the personal nature of this is so appalling, and I say that as a devout Catholic,” Pelosi said. “They say to me, ‘Nancy Pelosi thinks she knows more about having babies than the pope.’ Yes I do. Are you stupid?”23
In an appearance at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library, Pelosi mocked pro-life Catholics:
“It isn’t about ‘What is your religious belief?’ It’s ‘What is the right of people to make their own decisions about the sizing and time — or if — they’re going to have a family. This really gets me burned up — in case you didn’t notice — because, again, I’m very Catholic. Devout, practicing, all of that. They would like to throw me out, but I’m not going, because I don’t want to make their day.”
At a press conference the day after oral arguments in the Dobbs vs. Jackson Supreme Court case, Pelosi invoked her Catholic faith in support of abortion.
“It’s really scary. And I say that as a practicing Catholic. Again, this shouldn’t even be a political issue. Look at Ireland. Is there a more Catholic country? Look at Ireland and how they pass legislation respecting, respecting women, respecting women.” 24 (Ireland had recently voted in a national referendum to legalize most abortions.)
Asked at a press conference about the removal of the Hyde amendment protection against taxpayer funding for abortions from a federal spending bill, Pelosi said the removal “is something that has been a priority for many of us, a long time.”
“As a devout Catholic and mother of five in six years,” she continued:
I feel that God blessed my husband and me with our beautiful family, five children in six years almost to the day. But that may not be what we should – it’s not up to me to dictate that that’s what other people should do. And it’s an issue of fairness and justice for poor women in our country.
Asked at a press conference about San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone calling on Catholics to pray and fast to defeat the Women’s Health Protection Act, Pelosi said she disagreed with her bishop and appeared to mock the idea that he is her bishop.
REPORTER: I just wanted to ask you about the Women’s [Health] Protection Act. The Archdiocese of San Francisco and the Archbishop of San Francisco warns that the bill is nothing more than a child sacrifice, and he calls on Catholics to fast and pray to defeat this bill. You’re Catholic. Your reaction?
PELOSI: Yeah, I’m Catholic. I come from a pro‑life family, not active in that regard, different in their view of a woman’s right to choose than I am.
In my right to choose, I have five children in six years and one week. And I keep saying to people who say things like that, when you have five children in six days – six years and one day, we can talk about what business it is of any of us to tell anyone else [what] to do. For us, it was a complete and total blessing, which we enjoy every day of our lives, but it’s none of our business how other people choose the size and timing of their families.
My – the – my [laughs] – the archbishop of the city, that area of San Francisco, and I have a disagreement about who should decide this. I believe that God has given us a free will to honor our responsibilities.
In an interview with Roll Call, Pelosi invoked her Catholicism when answering a question about why she opposed a ban on painful late-term abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy:
Let me say this; I’m a Catholic, a devout, practicing Catholic. I take great comfort in my faith, come from a very Catholic family, largely pro-life. I’ve had five children and the day my fifth child was born, my oldest turned 6, so I’m with the program in terms of the Catholic Church. However, if there’s one issue that really — I try to be dispassionate about how we find solutions — if there’s one issue that really is almost inflaming to women, is when politicians say we will influence the size and timing of your family; we will decide what is right for you.
In an interview with the New York Times, Pelosi explicitly stated that her support of abortion is in direct contradiction to the Catholic Church’s teachings:
For Ms. Pelosi, the notion of disagreeing with other Catholics about abortion has not weighed on her sense of faith. “I think everyone grants everyone their position,” she said. “The church has their position, and we have ours, which is that a woman has free will given to her by God. My family is very pro-life,” she added, noting that she has lived with the conflict all her life.
After being questioned by a reporter about the atrocities committed by the abortionist Kermit Gosnell, Pelosi rebuked the reporter for even asking the question and then called the issue of abortion “sacred ground”:
REPORTER: Madam Leader, you mentioned the bill that passed out of the House Judiciary committee. Members who have proposed that bill have done that in the wake of this murder trial in Philadelphia. They argue that there really isn’t much of a moral difference between what someone like Dr. Kermit Gosnell did to infants born at 23, 24, 25 weeks into pregnancy, and what can happen at a clinic down the road in Maryland where a doctor says that he’ll perform an elective abortion 28 weeks into pregnancy. So the question I have for you is what is the moral difference between what Dr. Gosnell did to a baby born alive at 23 weeks and aborting her moments before birth?
PELOSI: You’re probably enjoying that question a lot, I can see you savoring it. Let me just tell you this.
REPORTER: Could you answer the question?
PELOSI: Let me just tell you this. What was done in Philadelphia was reprehensible and everybody condemned it. For [pro-life Republicans] to decide to disrespect a judgment a woman makes about her reproductive health is reprehensible. Next question.
REPORTER: So what’s the moral difference? I just asked a simple question. … What’s the moral difference then between 26 weeks elective abortion and the killing of that same infant born alive. This is the issue that they’re trying to–
PELOSI: This is not the issue. They are saying that there’s no abortion. It would make it a federal law that there would be no abortion in our country. You’re taking the extreme case. You’re taking the extreme case. And what I’m saying to you is what happened in Philadelphia was reprehensible. And I do not think you — I’m not going to have this conversation with you because you obviously have an agenda. You’re not interested in having an answer.
I’ve responded to you to the extent that I’m going to respond to you. Because I want to tell you something. As the mother of five children, my oldest child was 6 years old the day I brought my 5th child home from the hospital, as a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this. I don’t think it should have anything to do with politics. And that’s where you’re taking it and I’m not going there.
According to press reports, Pope Benedict XVI confronted Pelosi over her support for abortion when the two met at the Vatican in February 2009. “His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death,” the Holy See said in a statement.
Pelosi and her office refused to comment on the conversation about abortion, saying instead that they and the Vatican “chose to highlight different parts of the meeting.”25
In an interview with Newsweek, Pelosi spoke frankly about her conflicts with the Church and her bishop at the time, Archbishop George Niederauer:
I have some concerns about the church’s position respecting a woman’s right to choose. I have some concerns about the church’s position on gay rights. I am a practicing Catholic, although they’re probably not too happy about that. But it is my faith. I practically mourn this difference of opinion because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that is that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And that women should have that opportunity to exercise their free will.
…You know, I had five children in six years. The day I brought my fifth baby home, that week my daughter turned 6. So I appreciate and value all that they want to talk about in terms of family and the rest. When I speak to my archbishop in San Francisco and his role is to try to change my mind on the subject, well then he is exercising his pastoral duty to me as one of his flock. When they call me on the phone here to talk about, or come to see me about an issue, that’s a different story. Then they are advocates, and I am a public official, and I have a different responsibility.
On NBC’s Meet the Press, Pelosi invoked Saint Augustine, a doctor of the Church, to not only claim no one can say when life begins, but that when life begins is irrelevant to the issue of abortion:
I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition. And Senator–St. Augustine said at three months, we don’t know. The point is, is that it shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose. Roe v. Wade talks about very clear definitions of when the child–first trimester, certain considerations; second trimester; not so third trimester. There’s very clear distinctions. This isn’t about abortion on demand, it’s about a careful, careful consideration of all factors and–to–that a woman has to make with her doctor and her god. And so I don’t think anybody can tell you when life begins, human life begins. …So again, over the history of the church, this is an issue of controversy. But it is, it is also true that God has given us, each of us, a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And we want abortions to be safe, rare, and reduce the number of abortions. That’s why we have this fight in Congress over contraception. My Republican colleagues do not support contraception. If you want to reduce the number of abortions, and we all do, we must–it would behoove you to support family planning and, and contraception, you would think. But that is not the case. So we have to take–you know, we have to handle this as respectfully–this is sacred ground. We have to handle it very respectfully and not politicize it, as it has been–and I’m not saying Rick Warren did, because I don’t think he did, but others will try to.
In response to statements from multiple U.S. cardinals and bishops correcting Pelosi on the issue that year, one of her spokesmen doubled down and again invoked Pelosi’s Catholicism in defending her support for abortion.26
In an interview with C-SPAN promoting her memoir, Pelosi explicitly stated she disagrees with core Church teachings and discussed the possibility of being denied Communion:
C-SPAN: I mean, we’ve watched also candidates like John Kerry and Rudy Giuliani be criticized or be ostracized or – I don’t know what the word is – by the Catholic Church for their positions on abortion as it relates to whether they can go up and take communion. You’re very outspoken on that whole issue. Does the Church give you any difficulties?
PELOSI: Not really. But I think some of it is regional. It depends on the bishop in a certain region. Fortunately, for me it has not – communion has not been withheld, and I’m a regular communicant, so that would be a severe blow to me if that were the case. But in church this past Sunday in California they gave out what Catholics and the ballot box or something like that and it talked about a range of issues care for the poor, protection of the environment, stopping disarmament [sic], including issues that related to abortion and euthanasia and stem cell research. So there’s some areas where we’re in agreement and some areas where we’re not and one being a woman’s right to choose, the other being stem cell research.”
As John Kerry, a pro-abortion Catholic, secured the Democrat nomination for president, calls for bishops to deny Communion to pro-abortion politicians increased. Pelosi signed on to a letter of 48 Democrats denouncing bishops considering the move.
“As Catholics, we do not believe it is our role to legislate the teachings of the Catholic church,” the letter said. “Because we represent all of our constituents, we must, at times, separate our public actions from our personal beliefs.”
In a press conference, Pelosi mocked Pope John Paul II and slammed President George W. Bush and pro-life senators who enacted the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.
Pelosi, who describes herself as a devout Catholic, has five children and five grandchildren and has long been a vigorous pro-abortion rights voice in the House. She said her discussions with anti-abortion colleagues had sometimes gotten testy over the emotional issue.
“They told me once the pope knew more about having a baby than I did,” she said. “I said, “That’s really interesting. I’d like to talk to him about it.”’
“I love the pope. I have the highest regard for the pope . . . But I don’t think that a lot of guys should be calling the shots.”
Not Even a ‘Personally Pro-Life’ Democrat
As we mentioned at the start, these examples are far from an exhaustive list. But they serve as a sampling to demonstrate the fact that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has rejected her Catholic values since the beginning of her political career, when she won a special election to the U.S. House in California in 1987.
Since then, she has consistently expressed strident, dogmatic views in favor of abortion. She has always voted in favor of expanding abortion and always voted against any kind of restrictions, including prohibitions of the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion.
Through it all, Pelosi has used her Catholic faith to shut down any questions about her positions.
And most importantly: Unlike the “personally pro-life” Democrats, Pelosi has never expressed any qualms about the direct contradiction between millennia-old Catholic teachings and the Democratic Party’s pro-abortion dogma.
“The integrity of our Church—and all we profess to believe—is at stake.”
brian burch, president, Catholicvote