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Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, Marta Alanis Receive “Frances Kissling Award” at Catholics for Choice 50th Anniversary Celebration

June 14, 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, June 14, 2024
Contact: Ashley Wilson, Strategic Communications Advisor
Phone: (202) 294-4081

Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, Marta Alanis Receive “Frances Kissling Award” at Catholics for Choice 50th Anniversary Celebration

WASHINGTON — Catholics for Choice is proud to announce our 50th Anniversary and the inaugural recipients of the “Frances Kissling Award,” named after our long-time president and presented to exemplary pro-choice Catholics who demonstrate commitment to reproductive freedom and Catholic social justice.

The Frances Kissling Award, for living the values of Catholic social justice and Reproductive Justice, was presented to Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi.

Catholics for Choice President Jamie Manson, M.Div., said the following:

As one of the most outspoken pro-choice Catholics in Congress, Speaker Emerita Pelosi has been a voice for the majority of Catholics who know that conscience, not bishops or politicians, should guide our moral decision-making about abortion and reproductive healthcare. This has come at a personal and spiritual cost, as the bishops wage an unholy crusade to prohibit pro-choice politicians from receiving communion, and one archbishop, in particular, tried to block Speaker Pelosi from receiving any sacraments in her home diocese. But she refused to accept the false notion that anyone can be separated from the love of God or their love of the church.

“In response, Speaker Pelosi performed what I think is one of the most prophetic acts in the history of Catholic women: she skipped the middle management and went right to the top, organizing a face-to-face meeting with Pope Francis himself and receiving communion at St. Peter’s Basilica. It’s that kind of spiritual courage and unbreakable faith that made Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi the ideal recipient of the first-ever Frances Kissling Award for living the values of Catholic social justice and reproductive justice.”

Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi addressed the crowd and issued the following statement:

“For fifty years, Catholics for Choice has been stalwart champions of the right to choose – and the right of every woman everywhere to decide the size and timing of her family,” Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi said.  “It is with admiration for Catholics for Choice and reverence for Frances Kissling’s lifetime of leadership that I humbly accept the Frances Kissling Award.  As extremists escalate their assault on women’s health freedom, we are grateful to Catholics for Choice for helping lead the charge to win back — and defend — our freedoms.”

A second award, The Frances Kissling Award, for vision and courage in seeking global Reproductive Justice, was presented to Marta Alanis.

Catholics for Choice President Jamie Manson, M.Div., said the following:

“Marta is the founder of the Argentinian branch of the group Catolicas por el Derecho a Decidir, and the co-creator of the iconic green bandana protesters have adopted worldwide as a symbol of the fight for abortion rights. ⁠Marta has led one of the most powerful women’s movements in Latin America: the movement for legal, safe and free abortion. The Green Wave.

“Part of Marta’s activism began encouraging conversation among Catholic women in Argentina about the church’s view on sexuality and reproduction and uncovering the dissonance between the church’s stance and women’s real-life experience.”

Ms. Alanis issued the following statement upon receipt of the award (translated from Spanish):

“We learned from Frances her immense ability to convince the world with her arguments. Today, we Latin American women, embrace the North American women with feminist love, and we talk to them in different spaces to tell them what we have learned from our practices, our struggles, our mobilizations, and our opportunities.

“Feminism is the most global movement on the planet; we need us united. And the religious component is not as universal as our beliefs. Our beliefs are universal. We have learned to be Catholics and Feminists, and Frances has a lot to do with that.”

The awards were presented at Catholics for Choice’s 50th Anniversary Celebration on Thursday evening, June 13, 2024, which honored the legacy of Catholics for Choice and the leadership of Frances Kissling, the organization’s longest-serving leader.

Nearly 50 years ago, Pope John Paul II called on us to ‘Be not afraid.’ Catholics for Choice took him at his word. To be a pro-choice Catholic is in the best tradition of freedom of conscience and promotion of the preferential option for the poor.  Women have counted on CFC to stand with them for the past 50 years, and I am proud to be part of its history, integrity, and future,” said Frances Kissling, former President of Catholics for Choice and co-founder of the National Abortion Federation.

Reflecting on 50 years of Catholics for Choice, President Jamie Manson, M.Div. said,

“A lot has changed in the last 50 years: We have shortened our name, had a few new Popes and a pro-choice Catholic president… and Roe v. Wade is no longer the law of the land. But people of faith, and especially current and former Catholics, remain crucial to the reproductive rights and justice movement.

“Our mission calls us to educate and reverse the disinformation and shaming rhetoric of the Catholic hierarchy. Our theologically and ethically based belief that you can be a good Catholic and support abortion rights is key to transforming hearts and minds…We do this work because the Roman Catholic church is the most powerful anti-abortion lobby in the world. We are up against religious forces who invoke their faith in support of abortion bans or to justify the harassment of people who provide or receive abortion care.

“The fall of Roe showed the movement something that CFC has known since day one: Ignoring religion is a losing strategy. People of faith are a crucial base we must galvanize if we are going to win back our lost rights and preserve others that are in jeopardy. We need people who will counter religious extremism and say, ‘Not in the name of my faith will you take away basic human rights.’

“Catholic women are never honored for their courageous support of reproductive rights. So this celebration is momentous for the Catholic tradition. Thank you, again to Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, Marta Alanis, and Frances Kissling for being such incredible examples of what it means to be a Catholic for Choice.”

Full remarks from the 45-minute program available upon request.


Catholics for Choice shapes and advances sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to a person’s well-being and respect, and affirm the capacity of all people to make moral decisions about their lives.