SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) — No one can claim “to be a devout Catholic and condone the killing of innocent human life, let alone have the government pay for it,” said Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco.

“The right to life is a fundamental — the most fundamental — human right, and Catholics do not oppose fundamental human rights,” the archbishop said in a July 22 statement.

“To use the smokescreen of abortion as an issue of health and fairness to poor women is the epitome of hypocrisy: What about the health of the baby being killed? What about giving poor women real choice, so they are supported in choosing life?” he said.

He issued the statement in response to remarks House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., made during her weekly news conference with Capitol Hill reporters in Washington earlier in the day.

Pelosi, a Catholic, told reporters she backed current efforts by her fellow Democrats to eliminate the Hyde Amendment and other similar language from spending bills.

For four decades, the long-standing Hyde Amendment has enjoyed strong bipartisan support. It bans federal funding of abortions except when the mother’s life is endangered and in cases of rape and incest.

Hyde has been reenacted in spending bills every year since it was first passed in 1976.

“As a devout Catholic and mother of five in six years, I feel that God blessed my husband and me with our beautiful family,” Pelosi said, but “it is not up to me to dictate that’s what other people should do.”

Pelosi told reporters that federal funding of abortion for underprivileged women is about “fairness” and “health care.”

“It’s an issue of health of many women in America, especially those in lower income situations in different states, and it is something that has been a priority for many of us for a long time,” Pelosi said.

Biden, who also is Catholic and supports keeping abortion legal, has disavowed his decades of support for Hyde.

Archbishop Cordileone urged that poor women be given a “real choice” by supporting them in their decision to “choose life” and bring their baby to term.

“This would give them fairness and equality” that “women of means” have and “can afford to bring a child into the world.”

“It is people of faith who run pro-life crisis pregnancy clinics,” he said. “They are the only ones who provide poor women life-giving alternatives to having their babies killed in their wombs.”

He added, “I cannot be prouder of my fellow Catholics who are so prominent in providing this vital service. To them I say: You are the ones worthy to call yourselves ‘devout Catholics’!”

On July 26, Archbishop Cordileone told Bill Hemmer, co-anchor of “America’s Newsroom” on the Fox News Channel, that pregnancy crisis centers give pregnant women “wraparound support” by providing information, including a 3-D sonogram of their unborn child.

The 3-D image makes it “very clear this is a human life,” the archbishop said, adding that even women who were inclined to get an abortion “change their mind” after seeing this image of their unborn child.

These centers also provide pregnant women in need with practical help after the baby is born, he added, and that if a woman wants to put her child up for adoption, the staff at these centers walk the woman through that process.

Asked what he thought about Congress eliminating Hyde from spending bills, the archbishop said: “This is a very serious matter. It’s bad enough the government allows the killing of innocent human life and now they want to pay for it. I beg, implore our government not to pay (for abortions).”

When Hammer asked Archbishop Cordileone if he’d met with Pelosi to discuss the abortion issue, the prelate noted the pandemic had prevented pretty much all face-to-face meetings. He said he “did have a telephone conversation” with Pelosi “earlier this year (and) she was very respectful to me. … We had a good interchange.”

But he added that an in-person meeting on an issue as serious as abortion would be better and hoped this would happen with the House Speaker sooner rather than later, now that “thankfully, we’re beginning to emerge from the pandemic.”