By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
President Barack Obama’s much anticipated speech at Notre Dame yesterday turned out to be a typical “campaign” speech wherein he called for seeking the middle-ground on abortion even while neglecting to mention his own radical abortion record or that of most of the appointees in his administration.
The divisiveness of the abortion issue was the central focus of the president’s speech, which he highlighted with a story about a Christian, pro-life doctor who allegedly emailed him about a comment on his web site which indicated Obama would fight “right-wing ideologues who want to take away a woman’s right to choose.”
“The doctor said that he had assumed I was a reasonable person, but that if I truly believed that every pro-life individual was simply an ideologue who wanted to inflict suffering on women, then I was not very reasonable,” Obama said.
The doctor wrote, “I do not ask at this point that you oppose abortion, only that you speak about this issue in fair-minded words.”
Obama said “fair-minded words” were missing from the abortion debate and that while he “didn’t change my position” on abortion after hearing from the physician, he rededicated himself to finding “common ground” on abortion.
Not everyone in the crowd was convinced. While the president was still thanking Notre Dame officials for inviting him, several pro-life advocates stood up and shouted “Abortion is Murder” and “Stop killing babies!” before being escorted from the auditorium.
“So let’s work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions,” Obama said, adding that he wants to promote adoption, help for pregnant women and reducing unintended pregnancies.
Benjamin Clapper, the director of Louisiana Right to Life, told LifeNews.com after the speech that Obama has not been dedicated to finding common ground or using “fair-minded words” since becoming president.
He said, “President Obama is saying one thing and doing another. By requiring the taxpayer funding of abortion overseas and embryonic stem cell research, President Obama’s actions are anything but ‘fair-minded’.”
“In addition, it is expected that President Obama will include taxpayer funded abortions in his upcoming health care reform legislation. By forcing every American to fund abortion in health care, President Obama undermines any attempt to find common ground on the issue of abortion,” Clapper added.
One of the few surprises in Obama’s speech was his call for an effort to “honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women.”
While the rhetoric sounds conciliatory, the fact remains that his administration plans to revoke existing conscience clause rights which will force healthcare workers to participate in practices that violate their consciences.
“And if we are going to base policies on ‘sound science,’ how about starting with the biological fact that embryos and fetuses are living human organisms?,” adds attorney Wesley Smith, a prominent pro-life advocate. “Pretending that human embryos and fetuses are not ‘human life’ (what are they, Martian?) may not resolve these contentious ethical issues, but if our policies are going to reflect ‘sound science,’ so that we can create policies based on “clear ethics,” then the biological facts should quit being fudged.”
Meanwhile, outside the venue, pro-life advocates were engaged in a variety of peaceful protests and prayers vigils. Nineteen people were arrested for violating University rules by bringing their protests on campus. These included former Ambassador Alan Keyes, Norma McCorvey, better known as “Roe” in the Roe v. Wade case, and an 80 year old priest.
Bishop John D’Arcy, bishop of the diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who had announced weeks ago that he was boycotting the event, changed his mind on the eve of the commencement and decided to join the crowd of about 2,500 pro-life protesters.
D’Arcy said he changed his mind because anti-abortion Notre Dame undergraduates inspired him Saturday night.
“It is certainly the place for the bishop to be here,” D’Arcy said to applause. “John D’Arcy’s not important, but the office of bishop if very important and it must always be like Pope John Paul II to stand up for life all the time, everywhere without exception.”
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