SOUTH BEND, Ind. – More than two dozen pro-life protesters were arrested at Notre Dame University Sunday as President Barack Obama told a graduation ceremony at the Catholic school that both sides in the abortion debate must stop demonizing one another.
Obama acknowledged that “no matter how much we want to fudge it … the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable.” But he still implored the University of Notre Dame’s graduating class and all in the U.S. to stop “reducing those with differing views to caricature. Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words. It’s a way of life that always has been the Notre Dame tradition.”
One of the noisiest controversies of his young presidency flared after Obama, who supports abortion rights but says the procedure should be rare, was invited to speak at the school and receive an honorary degree. “I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away,” the president said.
The Rev. John Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president, introduced Obama and praised the president for not being “someone who stops talking to those who disagree with him.” Jenkins said too little attention has been paid to Obama’s decision to speak at an institution that opposes his abortion policy.
Ahead of Obama’s address, at least 27 people were arrested on trespassing charges. They included Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff identified as “Roe” in the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. She now opposes abortion and joined more than 300 anti-abortion demonstrators at the school’s front gate.
More than half held signs, some declaring “Shame on Notre Dame” and “Stop Abortion Now” to express their anger over Notre Dame’s invitation to Obama.