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Abortion, Notre Dame and Obama

The unending national debate about abortion has wrapped itself around President Obama's scheduled graduation speech at Notre Dame University and our Readers Who Comment are fully engaged on both sides of the subject.

As Peter Slevin and Jacqueline L. Salmon write, "The protests come at a time when the antiabortion movement is increasingly splintered amid a debate over goals and tactics." That splintering is seen in some of the comments, but the basic arguments expressed are ones we have heard for many years:

"It is wrong to take a life, and that's what abortion does" versus "We need a better solution than abstinence for an unwanted pregnancy."

While the majority of comments at this hour favor the President's appearance, the many facets of this issue are well represented.

We'll start with youfunny100, who wrote, "The Bishops continue to embarrass Catholics. People are out of work and losing their houses, life savings have been lost, families don't have health insurance, we are waging two wars in which soldiers and innocent civilians are dying, we have confirmed that our leaders willfully violated the Geneva Convention, and the Bishops and a bunch of zealots are upset because a university invited the President to speak at the commencement."

But joanharlin said, "Those who are pro abortion should be required to witness an abortion... and then make an informed decision... As far as Notre Dame goes, it was a poor choice of speaker given the principles esteemed by that university. It is very easy to be rabidly for certain practices if you are at a convenient distance, removed from those practices. Make your decisions based on the facts and not some ideological stance out of touch with reality."

terminator_x wrote, "The Catholic anti-abortion activists are doing this the wrong way. This doesn't appear to be a protest against abortion as much as it appears to be a rejection of a popular, democratically-elected President... the Catholic hierarchy needs to find a way to respect President Obama... while maintaining a moral stance protecting the unborn."

patmatthews said, "...The GOP and everyone that supports these pro-lifer's nee[d]s to go adopt an unwanted American child; irregardless of color; and raise them for the rest of their; the child's; natural life, instead of talking about pro-life, be pro life. Currently the pro-lifers are just being selfish and wheeling their own children around. Showing off."

mya123 wrote, "Having failed to persuade the electorate after 30+ years, the anti-abortionist forces have decided the winning strategy is to yell LOUDER. Because if you can't convince people with civil arguments, a megaphone will usually do the trick..."

bpai_99 said, "It continues to impress me how often so-called Christians behave in ways that are anything but Christian... After all, when you are on God's side and all others are not, you know God's will and others do not, and you intend to use the power of government to advance your understanding of God's kingdom, why would you respect anyone who felt otherwise?..."

Beren wrote, "Spoiling people's graduation *may* be a good way to get your message heard if you don't think people already know what you think... but if they already know what you think, all it does is alienate people. From a PR point of view, it's simply suicidal."

windrider2 said, "More silliness along the road to irrelevance. Abortion isn't the problem, unintended pregnancy is the problem, and abortion is unfortunately the most expedient and PRACTICAL solution, however abhorrent it is. If pro-lifers really wanted to save more embryonic life, they'd get busy building a better mousetrap... and no, abstinence isn't a workable solution because no one follows it..."

And over50 wrote, "How convenient to protest abortion -- and also refuse to allow contraception. Little wonder women have no voice in the Catholic heirarchy"

rwolf01 said, "Obama's position on this is actually very reasonable and centrist: He thinks nobody likes unwanted pregnancies. Once they've happened, there are no great solutions... He understands that people may disagree with him, but he would like to work together with people on all sides of the abortion issue to try to prevent unwanted pregnancies. I'm stunned that the visceral, hysterical anti-abortionists try to paint Obama as the extremist."

FloridaCitizen wrote, "muslim president should not visit a Christian institution"

To which hassebisse replied, "Since when is Obama a muslim? Get a life you hypocrite."

mcqueen0831 offered that, "This is NOT about abortion rights... both Ford AND Carter supported abortion rights. This is about race. A black man speaking on the campus of Notre Dame. These people need to be for real and honest and cut that crap!"

FortBliss wrote, "Abortion is wrong and evil. Notre Dame was wrong to invite him to speak. It is wrong of the protesters to disrupt the graduation ceremony. However, if my child were graduating that day, I would not attend the ceremony."

ErnieNucup said, "I abhor almost everything Mr. Obama stands for. But he has the right to speak his mind, like it or not, on any public forum. Likewise, anyone has the right to express his or her opinion regarding the presence or absence of Mr. Obama on campus."

We'll close with sandram1 wrote, "As a Notre Dame grad I am thrilled that Obama is coming to ND as are my ND grad children. We are able to recognize this sideshow for what it is- the dying drumbeat of crazed republican social conservatives who ignore all other issues in their pursuit push a conservative for the Supreme Court. No other issues matter to these sad souls."

All comments on this article are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  May 13, 2009; 8:02 AM ET
Categories:  Abortion , Obama  | Tags: Abortion, Notre Dame, Obama  
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The vast majority of catholic pro-lifers supported the Pope is his attempt to prevent war in Iraq via negotiation and continued pressure on Saddam to live up to the negotiated UN resolution Saddam signed for peace in 1991.

I regret the death of every innocent man, woman, and child in Iraq - especially the children.

Abortion numbers spiked in 2008 before Mr. Obama became president. If I had to take a guess I suspect President Bush's atheistic economic policies contributed to the problem.

Yet President Bush with his platitudes and passive resistance to evil(the denial of federal funds for abortion and embryonic stem cell research - which I applaud by the way as the only two ethical things he did besides attack the Taliban in Afghanistan) was seen as a great friend of the catholic church?

That position is hard to defend. Anyone ever heard of social justice?

That being said:

Abortion and embryonic stem cell research our affronts to us all, and it was important for President Obama to hear that. It was good that people witnessed to their faith by standing up to power and saying abortion is wrong.

I wonder where you guys were during the Iraq war but I am glad you woke up for this fight.

Posted by: agapn9 | May 14, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I think that president Obama makes a lot of risky and innovative moves, one of those is going to a catholic school to talk about abortion. I'm not sure if that was the smartest move he could take because abortion is a very delicate subject and even more when you are talking to a crowd whose beliefs are mostly catholic. There is no doubt that President Obama has very open minded ideas and for him to talk about the possible solutions to avid unwanted pregnancy is very brave and takes a lot of courage to do taking into consideration that expressing his thoughts regarding this issue may affect his popularity with respect to some individuals. But I think is better for President Obama to talk and stand by what he believes, and attempt to educate people on the issue.

Posted by: shirleyjamorales | May 13, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Notre Dame routinely hands out honorary degrees to Presidents, it's also hosted pro-choice speakers at it's commencements in the past so it's a little hard to take them seriously when they claim their conscious if forcing them to "witness" and this has nothing to do with politics.

Posted by: dijetlo | May 13, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Where are these so-called pro-lifers when it comes to, in the words of Joan Chittister, "military abortion"? Who protects the pregnant woman of Iraq who have been killed by US miliatry agression? One cannot be pro-life AND pro-war at the same time. Killing is killing.

Posted by: maryc5 | May 13, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

It is a shame that the conscientious support of a fundamental Catholic belief--that every human life is sacred--is viewed as a political ploy. Christ and Christianity transcended politics when Jesus was alive and do so now. As one of those 360,000 Catholics who signed the petition protesting President Obama's invitation to speak at Notre Dame, and to receive an honorary law degree, I can assure you that I did so as a witness to my faith, not as a desperate political gesture. The invitation of this vehemently pro-abortion president to an iconic Catholic institution contradicts fundamental tenets of the faith, confusing and, as they used to say, "giving scandal" to other Catholics and to the world about what we believe. I do not hate President Obama, but I abhor his stand on life. Fr. Jenkins is answerable to God for creating this conflict.

Posted by: jcgarwood | May 13, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

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