President Barack Obama was warmly welcomed at Notre Dame’s commencement today. Obama used his speech to not only called for a reduction in abortions performed, and for two sides of a debate that will probably never agree on the issue, but they can have an open hearted and minded debate.
Obama said, “Maybe we won’t agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this is a heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both moral and spiritual dimensions. So let’s work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term. Let’s 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.”
He continued, “Understand — I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away. No matter how much we may want to fudge it — indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory — the fact is that 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. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature. Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words.”
Obama certainly didn’t sound like the baby killing radical that religious right has painted him to be. Obama once again demonstrated that the worst thing his political opponents can ever do is to paint him as a radical. He excels in the middle. Obama emerged as the real winner of this controversy today. He used the radical right’s protests as an opportunity to position himself in the middle of America’s toughest cultural issue.
The protests and outrage were an outside manufactured creation, which didn’t materialize inside the university community. Before the speech some experts said that Obama’s remarks could hurt him with Catholics, but I don’t think that is what happened here. By voicing his desire to reduce the number of abortions performed in the country, while calling for a respectful dialogue, Obama appealed to the people on both sides of the debate that aren’t zealots. His position may not be popular on the fringes, but it works quite nicely for those in the middle.