May 17th, 2009
03:31 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama: 'Each side will continue to make its case' on abortion


SOUTH BEND, Indiana (CNN) - President Barack Obama delved into the charged abortion debate in a controversial Notre Dame commencement address Sunday, urging civility and a search for common ground on perhaps the most divisive issue in American politics.

Read: Obama's remarks at Notre Dame

Addressing a sharply divided audience at the storied Catholic university, Obama nevertheless conceded that no matter how much Americans "may want to fudge it ... at some level the views of the two camps are irreconcilable."

"Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction," he said. "But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature."

The commencement ceremony was boycotted by a number of graduates dismayed by the university's decision both to tap Obama as its commencement speaker and to give him an honorary degree. The president is a supporter of abortion rights and federally-funded embryonic stem-cell research - positions that are anathema to traditional Catholic teachings.

Some graduates attended the ceremony, but expressed their disapproval by donning a mortar board marked with a cross and the outline of an infant's footprints. Others countered by wearing mortarboards adorned with an Obama campaign symbol.

Twenty-seven people were arrested prior to Obama's speech, according to a spokeswoman for the St. Joseph County, Indiana, jail. Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff identified as "Roe" in the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, was among those arrested.

But inside, several hecklers who interrupted the start of Obama's speech were loudly booed by the audience.

Full story


Filed under: Abortion • President Obama
soundoff (182 Responses)
  1. PJ

    I will not defend or propose abortion. It is up to the individual. Religions my say one thing, others thing other things. It is a horrendous insult what they tried to do to the President. So what? Bush was there too and no one complained. He even got a degree given to a twit and no one complained. Hypocrisy to the max. President Obama was not here to promote abortion, but to give homage to those graduating. Obama has a real degree that he earned. He does not need a fake stroke degree to make himself feel important. No one thinks about those people graduating. It is all about them. Go pray some more rosaries, please.

    May 17, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  2. Ex-republican

    The President gave a great speach for all americans. Just listen, go thru his words, and try to learn something. And, I am american muslim, previous republican, now independent!
    Thank you, Mr. President!!!!!!

    May 17, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  3. Angie

    I think women should have the right to choose, not a bunch of suits. who don't have a problem killing innocent people in a war that should not have been started by BUSH.

    May 17, 2009 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  4. Nancy

    President Obama makes me proud. The hypocrisy of the Catholic leaders is absolutely amazing. Don't abort, better to send the women to butchers instead. I have never had an abortion and have chosen to have 4 children. I also know not everyone has the same options or support in their life. Only the judgmental people who have never walked in another's shoes evidently "talk for God." They certainly have no problem forgiving themselves.

    President Obama with wisdom and grace shames them.

    May 17, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  5. william gair

    We will never agree on this issue. But our fundamental differences on abortion have gotten in the way of cooperating with eachother on other issues where we share at least some common ground. This is a dangerous position for a democracy to be in. The split on this issue does not give anyone licence to character assasination and to practice such assasination is an obstruction of democracy and an attack on the American Dream.

    May 18, 2009 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  6. Jon Krieger

    Common ground?On killing babies?Really Obama,what are you smoking?

    May 18, 2009 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
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