Catholic groups slam Pelosi's claim that abortion is 'sacred ground'

Nancy Pelosi at a 2010 press conference in the Capitol Credit Nancy Pelosi CC BY 20 CNA US Catholic News 6 8 12 Nancy Pelosi at a 2010 press conference in the Capitol. | Nancy Pelosi (CC BY 2.0).

Prominent Catholics and members of the pro-life movement denounced statements by House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi that as a Catholic, she views the protection of late-term abortion as "sacred ground."

Maureen Ferguson, senior policy advisor for the Catholic Association, called it "amazing" that the trial of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell "did not touch Nancy Pelosi's heart."

"What we learned from the Gosnell trial and what we understand is going on inside other clinics is not only human rights abuse but it also puts women in harm's way," she said in a statement.

Gosnell was a Philadelphia late-term abortionist who was recently convicted of several counts of first-degree murder for the killing of infants who survived his abortion attempts, among other crimes and health violations.

During a June 13 press conference, Pelosi was questioned about the matter by a reporter who asked what the moral difference was between legal late-term abortions and the infanticides of babies of the same age committed by Gosnell.

The question came in reference Pelosi's opposition to a bill introduced in Congress to ban late-term abortions after 20 weeks gestation, unless doctors deemed the mother's life or basic health were deemed to be at risk.

Pelosi did not answer the question, saying instead that the bill was an effort to ensure that "there will be no abortion in our country."

She also framed the protection of late-term abortion as a matter of faith.

"As a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this," she said. "I don't think it should have anything to do with politics."

Leading Catholic and pro-life leaders were quick to reject Pelosi's statement.

"The only difference between the Gosnell 'after-birth' abortions and legal late-term abortions is the location of the baby at the time of death," Ferguson said.

"And contrary to Pelosi's extreme claim that the Franks bill is 'disrespectful' to women, the majority of women are opposed to late-term abortions according to a recent Gallup poll."

"Pelosi's comments are deeply offensive," said Thomas Peters of

He told CNA on June 14 that it "is an embarrassment to all Americans that the top Democrat in Congress is completely ignorant not only of what her personal faith teaches, but what the bill in question would actually ban or allow, and that she gives no supporting evidence according to any category of human knowledge of how she came to her abortion views."

"To be a Catholic means to understand reality how the Church understands it, not according to your personal, private beliefs," Peters said, criticizing Pelosi's claim that her pro-abortion stance comes from her Catholic faith.

"Americans deserves better in their public officials than someone who uses their faith as a screen against any actual knowledge of what they're legislating on."

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said in a statement that as "a mother and practicing Catholic, I have a modest proposal for Mrs. Pelosi: that she consider the Church's teaching which says each life is sacred and reject the idea that each abortion is."

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