Right-wing media seized on a comment Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi made about Catholics and health care providers to suggest that Pelosi was mocking Catholics for having a "conscience." In fact, Pelosi, who is Catholic, was discussing Republican-backed "conscience exemptions" for health care providers that refuse to perform abortions, which Pelosi has said could endanger the health of women.
Right-Wing Media Claim Pelosi "Bash[ed] Catholics" With "Conscience" Comment
Doocy Asks Bishop: "What Do You Think [Pelosi Is] Talking About There With Catholics And Their 'Conscience Thing?' " On the November 22 broadcast of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy interviewed Bishop William Lori, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to discuss whether the Obama administration is "anti-Catholic." At one point, Doocy asked Lori about Pelosi's comments:
DOOCY: Sir, I want to ask you for your reaction on something that the former speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said yesterday in the pages of The Washington Post. She said: "I am a devout Catholic, and I honor my faith and love it. But they have this conscience thing." What do you think she's talking about there with Catholics and their "conscience thing"?
LORI: It's not Catholics and their conscience thing. It's the Bill of Rights. Religious liberty is the first of our freedom [sic] and the source of all the others. I think that there are comments being made in public by lawmakers and others that really underline the reason why we have this ad hoc committee on religious freedom and why we have to, as a country, unite in defending our religious freedoms. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/22/11]
For more on the claim that the Obama administration is "anti-Catholic," SEE HERE.
Drudge Report: "Pelosi Bashes Catholics: 'They Have This Conscience Thing.'" On November 22, Drudge Report linked to a LifeNews.com article about Pelosi's comments with the headline:
[Drudge Report Archives, 11/22/11]
American Thinker: "This Conscience Thing? As In, They Have One? And [Pelosi] Called Cain Clueless?" In a November 18 post, American Thinker attacked Pelosi's comments, writing:
Pelosi sought to defend herself from allegations that she and her husband made millions from insider trading in what the Washington Post calls a wide ranging interview. And she responded to Herman Cain's recent reference to her as "Princess Nancy," calling it clueless: "clueless in that you don't say something like that."
Unlike, for instance, when Pelosi charged that, in voting to allow health care providers a conscience exemption from providing abortions, Republicans "will be voting to say that women can die on the floor."
Pelosi conveniently ignored that the measure passed with Democrat support.
So, in Nancy's world, it's clueless to jokingly call Pelosi a princess, but okay for her to accuse Republican members of Congress of saying that women can just die on the floor? "They would!" she reiterated to the Post. "Again, whatever their intention is, this is the effect."
Before the reader can recover from her hypocrisy, Pelosi added a startling, if inadvertent, admission. Addressing the effects such legislation would have on Catholic health care providers, Pelosi said:
"I'm a devout Catholic and I honor my faith and love it . . . but they have this conscience thing." (Emphasis added.)
This conscience thing? As in, they have one?
And she called Cain clueless? [American Thinker, 11/18/11, emphasis original]
But Pelosi Was Referring To "Conscience Exemptions" For Hospitals -- Not Individual Conscience
In Wash. Post Article, Pelosi Was Referring To "The Conscience Protections" For "Catholic Health-Care Providers." In a November 17 Washington Post article, Pelosi addressed criticisms of how she characterized Republican proposals to expand "conscience exemptions" for providers that refuse to perform abortions. From the article:
Pelosi recently was criticized for the way she characterized a bill to amend Republican-proposed conscience exemptions for health-care reform that allow providers to refuse to perform abortions. Pelosi called the measure, which passed last month with some help from Democrats, "savage,'' and said, "When the Republicans vote for this bill today, they will be voting to say that women can die on the floor and health-care providers do not have to intervene, if this bill is passed. It's just appalling."
In retrospect, does she think that assessment went too far? Not at all, she said: "They would" let women die on the floor, she said. "They would! Again, whatever their intention is, this is the effect.''
Catholic health-care providers in particular have long said they'd have to go out of business without the conscience protections that Pelosi says amount to letting hospitals "say to a woman, 'I'm sorry you could die' if you don't get an abortion." Those who dispute that characterization "may not like the language,'' she said, "but the truth is what I said. I'm a devout Catholic and I honor my faith and love it . . . but they have this conscience thing'' that she insists put women at physical risk, although Catholic providers strongly disagree. [The Washington Post, 11/17/11, emphasis added]