May 17th, 2009
03:31 PM ET
5 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. Jeff

    Are sexual abuse and rape of alter servants also positions that are anathema to traditional Catholic teachings. As they say, let he/she who is without sin be the first to cast a stone.

    May 17, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  2. Kathy

    It's very simple.....If you are against abortion, DON'T HAVE ONE. Laws in the U.S. protect your rights. That's it. Discussion over. Go do something else.

    May 17, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  3. Fla.

    I choose the side addressing a common ground of understanding that education and planning is key, not the side that uses people for elections and then didn't deliver while controlling all three branches of government.

    In fact, God bless President Obama for having the intelligence and diplomacy to address our issues in a pragmatic manner for all Americans.

    May 17, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  4. Thomas

    Cnn, What was all the hype about? After seeing the huge crowd of
    Obama supporters of Notre Dame Who actually INVITED him to come , it only confirms that the Catholic church and university has been highjacked by a few zealots, bigots,racists, and just plain idiots who don't speak for the vast majority of catholics at Notre Dame.

    I guess the devil needs somewhere to hide. The catholic church is as
    good as any place to them.

    May 17, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  5. Beacon

    To: Tonm @4:37

    And what do you propose should happen to the males who had 50% of the "irresponsibility" of creating life?? Lorena Bobbit knows!!!

    May 17, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  6. HEIDI

    I read the speech on MSNBC, once again President speaks truth inspite of adversitiy.

    May 17, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  7. Tbone85

    Unbelievable hypocrisy. The Catholic Church is also opposed to the death penalty. Where were these church leaders when President Bush was invited to receive an honor? Did they boycott because ND or any other Catholic university honored others who opposed other church teachings such as opposition to the death penalty. Are these leaders of a Christian Church implying that they or God hold abortion as a more abhorrent sin than other sins?

    May 17, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  8. Joe NAP (Not a Plumber)

    What ever happened to the very wise advice: "If you don't believe in abortion, then don't have one". (This doesn't apply to men, of course)

    May 17, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  9. TrueIndependent

    I am pro life.

    We had a Republican president for 8 years and Republican Congress for 6 years, yet nothing happened.

    For any sensible person who truly wants to see an end to abortion, how can you fault what the president said? He said
    1. Accept that nobody is pro-death.
    2. Accept that this is an agonizing decision.
    3. Prevent pregnancy.
    4. For those who get pregnant, encourage them to carry the baby full term.
    5. Make adoption easier.
    6. Make it easier for health providers to refuse to treat abortion related cases.

    If you cannot come up with better solutions, please put a sock in it.

    We want problem solvers, not divisiveness.

    God Bless Us All.

    May 17, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  10. William

    CNN spent 95% of it's coverage on what amounts to a relative handful of people protesting and those were mostly adults that were not even part of the University community.

    May 17, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  11. ck

    Could Obama be any more disrespectful. To speak at a Roman Catholic school promoting HIS agenda. I find it apalling.

    And to all the liberals who are so proud of the president right now, and think this speech was awesome. When can we expect NOW to invite a Pro Life speaker to a NOW function??

    It'll never happen. Liberal hypocrites would never allow it and would behave in a classless and disgusting manner toward anyone if they did.

    Must be nice to be so PROUD that you support babies being killed, because that is what ABORTION IS. Sugarcoat it with the "Pro Choice" stance and you can all feel good eh.

    Sad day in America.

    May 17, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  12. Quick Poll

    How many Catholics over the age of 18, unmarried is still a virgin? That what I thought! How can they judge.

    @ jk- I rather have Obama out and mingling with the people than a republican like Bush who stayed up in the White House without a clue.

    May 17, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  13. flybyshoeing

    " Several Hecklers?" It was two. Come on CNN are you trying for 5th place in the ratings?

    May 17, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  14. Ray Fisher

    The President asusual did an excellent job of handling the Notre Dame situation with tact, diplomacy and his customary wit and disarmament. We should ask him to begin nuclear elimination talks!!!

    May 17, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  15. Leah

    I am Catholic and a supporter of The University of Notre Dame. Notre
    Dame is more than just a football team. I am proud to support Notre Dame and President Obama. Some of the people that make comments know nothing about being Catholic or about Notre Dame. I was so proud of how President Obama handled the situation. His speech was so inspiring. The graduates of Notre Dame have the same qualities as President Obama, that is dignity and intelligence.

    May 17, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  16. Gloria

    @Tom: Otherwise Irrespnsible women who creat life should have their life creating equipment removed permanently. They don't deserve it.

    Tom, for your information..women do not create life..Men do. Do maybe the above ignorant comments should be directed at men.

    May 17, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  17. Mike in Oahu

    We must recognize that it is not the State's role to enforce the Church's moral agenda. If this were the case then it would be State policy to recognize the existence of the Soul, a viewpoint which is not held by all religions.

    The Church should stay within its' own "box". It has the right to instruct its' own adherants. However it does not have the right to impose its' footprint on others. This goes for all religious organizations, including the conservative Christian denominations. The State should not act as the bully pulpit for the Church.

    It seems that Notre Dame has an identity crisis. Do they offer a secular education or only a religious education?

    May 17, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  18. Cobra Montana

    Put a muzzle on the idiot, people are tired of seeing and hearing him, nothing changes, same lies same garbadge out of his mouth.

    May 17, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  19. Scott

    " and unbiased rationality mark him as one of the most brilliant and decent presidents in the history of the Republic"

    One of the most brilliant and decent -speakers-... maybe. Presidents? He has said much,but done nothing positive that I can see as of yet. Let's not be so easily blinded simply because someone speaks well.

    May 17, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  20. JR

    Notre Dame is disgusting. I will never support an institution that disrespects the POTUS! Complete madness.

    May 17, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  21. virginia for obama

    @ arthur! . . . well said!! All these haters of Obama claim to have a problem with the obortion issue. . . . but, . . once the child is born and in FOSTER CARE and dealing with all kinds of problems. Such as, being molested, homeless, drug addicts etc. These Haters of Obama, are the same people who call these children names (Bastards) because they have no family to care or norture them. Shameful. . . just. . . Shameful.

    May 17, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  22. Iamamazed

    Obama has a right to his own conviction but Norte Dame has no business inviting him because of the tenets of the university. It is hypocrisy for them to do that. If this was a Islamic school,today will not happen.You cant eat your cake at the same time have it.

    Bush haters, Americans voted and supported the wars,so when has the wars become Bush.It is an insult to say Bush lied and convinence 300,000 000 people,are you saying AMericans a retards...think on this.

    Obama is bombing and killing innocent women and children in Parki and Afgha..oh sorry I guess Bush asked him to do that.

    May 17, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  23. Russell, NC

    I agree with Rachel. I am sick of looking at the Obamas every time I turn the TV on. Why is CNN so obsessed with them?

    May 17, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  24. Larry

    Addressing a sharply divided audience at the storied Catholic university–The Catholics are NOT sharply divided–killing the unborn is killing the unborn.Having Obama there,who is for abortion, was the issue.

    May 17, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  25. AM I STILL IN MODERATION????

    Tom May 17th, 2009 4:37 pm ET

    "Otherwise Irrespnsible women who creat life should have their life creating equipment removed permanently. They don't deserve it."

    Does that statement apply to men who use their "life creating equipment" irresponsibly too? There would be far fewer abortions if a lot more men didn't leave birth control only up to the women. It's a far less invasive procedure (just a little "snip" – really!) and just as effective. :)

    May 17, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
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