Pelosi Slams Planned Parenthood Defunding Attempts, Encourages Compromise: ‘That’s What Pope Francis Told Us to Do’

Lauretta Brown | October 22, 2015 | 4:02pm EDT
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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) (AP Photo)

( – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) criticized Republican attempts to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal the Affordable Care Act in the House’s upcoming vote on a reconciliation bill Friday.

Pelosi told reporters in her Thursday press briefing that “it doesn’t have to be this way,” saying that there could be legislative compromise, which was “what Pope Francis told us to do.” Then she cited remarks in the Pope’s September speech to Congress.  


“Republicans are moving forward with a GOP reconciliation package that once again lays the groundwork for another Republican government shutdown. It’s a waste of time. It will go nowhere in the Senate,” Pelosi said.

“It will be their 61st vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and they will of course be wanting to defund Planned Parenthood, destroy the Affordable Care Act, dismantle newfound health security for millions of Americans,” she continued.

“It doesn’t have to be this way,” Pelosi emphasized. “Instead we could be working together recognizing a Republican Congress, a Democratic president, the ability for Democrats to use their leverage legislatively to have compromise for the good of the American people. That’s what Pope Francis told us to do.

“He said leaders should have transparency. That would be wonderful - openness, he said. He used the word openness and pragmatism, and he said we have to move forward for the good of the people. Let’s in the spirit of Francis do that,” she added.

Pelosi was referencing the Pope’s September 24th speech before Congress in which he praised “openness and pragmatism” as qualities of a good leader, although it was in the context of countries resuming dialogue.

“When countries which have been at odds resume the path of dialogue – a dialogue which may have been interrupted for the most legitimate of reasons – new opportunities open up for all,” the Pope said. “This has required, and requires, courage and daring, which is not the same as irresponsibility. A good political leader is one who, with the interests of all in mind, seizes the moment in a spirit of openness and pragmatism.”

The pope also mentioned moving forward for the common good.

“Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent. Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples,” the pope said, “We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.”

Pelosi cited these same words of Pope Francis, again in relation to avoiding a government shutdown, in an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell shortly after the pope’s September visit.  

“His Holiness gave us good guidance – to be in dialogue – that was the message of Saint Thomas Merton, of Thomas Merton, in terms of dialogue – find a path, go forward … make progress, go forward … respect other people’s views, and come to solutions that do just that,” Pelosi told Mitchell. “So, I feel quite certain that we’ll keep government open, because it’s the right thing to do.

“I know there are those who want to express themselves as opposed to respect for women’s health – but have them express that… but our higher responsibility is to get the job done for the American people,” she added. “That was an overriding thing of Pope Francis, to do what we come here to do for the greater good, and to do it for our home.”

The pope also spoke before the United Nations during his U.S. visit and called for “respect for the sacredness of every human life,” including that of “the unborn.”

The House of Representatives will vote Friday on the budget reconciliation bill. Republicans will attempt to employ the reconciliation process to approve legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. The bill would block, for one year, at least 89% of federal payments to Planned Parenthood.

In its last annual report, Planned Parenthood said it performed more than 327,653 abortions in fiscal 2013-2014. The organization also reported that it received $528.4 million in government health grants and reimbursements for that year, which equaled about 41 percent of its income.

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