Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010

Entering the Abortion Debate at Notre Dame

No matter how much we want to fudge it ... the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable."—May 17, 2009

As President Obama prepared to deliver the commencement address at Notre Dame in May, more than 300 protesters gathered to convey a message not to graduates, but to the President himself. The protesters — among whom was Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff identified as Roe in the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, and who now opposes that right — held signs to demonstrate their outrage at the nation's premier Catholic university having asked Obama, who supports abortion rights, to speak. Obama conceded no ground to his critics, but rather reminded both sides that they all "can still agree that this is a heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both moral and spiritual dimensions." Despite three interruptions from protesters — one shouted, "Stop killing our children" — Obama pressed on, garnering applause from the 12,000-member crowd when he mentioned other dimensions to the abortion debate, such as making adoption more widely available and reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies.