By Jacqueline L. Salmon
Looks like President Obama used his highly anticipated Notre Dame commencement speech as the opening salvo of his long-anticipated effort to reduce the number of abortions in this country–to find “common ground” on one of the most divisive issues of our era.
From his speech yesterday:
“So let us work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions, let’s reduce unintended pregnancies. Let’s make adoption more available. Let’s provide care and support for women who do carry their children 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 not only in sound science, but also in clear ethics, as well as respect for the equality of women.” Those are things we can do.”
Presidential aides have been holding regular conference calls and meetings with abortion activists from across the spectrum, and the president is expected to announce the program shortly.
Over at Progressive Revival, Paul Raushenbush, associate dean of religious life at Princeton University, yesterday called the speech a victory for the president and a victory for the country.
“President Obama confirmed his approach which is sincerely aimed a creating a middle way for this most divisive of issues. In surrounding himself with both pro-life and pro-choice voices, the president is at least aware of the compelling arguments on both sides and he approaches them with respect. The President did not shy away from the difficult questions at hand but addressed them head on, reminding all of us (including Catholic voters) how fortunate we are as a nation.
So far, some of the president’s initiatives have, to put it mildly, not earned him any fans among many in the anti-abortion camp. Naming abortion rights supporter (and Catholic) Kathleen Sebellius as HHS secretary, permitting federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, overturning a ban on funding international family planning groups that provide abortion. Not a lot of winners there for abortion foes.
In a cautionary post-Notre Dame speech posting, Christian broadcaster David Brody put it this way:
“If the President has skin in the game, what is the ‘bone’ he’ll throw to faithful conservatives? An increase in funding for adoption agencies? That would probably be a start for some but for President Obama to really gain credibility among faithful conservatives he’ll probably have to go farther. What about an embrace of crisis pregnancy centers who have more of a pro-life message? Or a fetal pain bill? …There are some conservative Evangelicals who want to give the President the benefit of the doubt on this but to use a basketball term that he’ll understand he’s going to need to “bring it strong to the rack”…Will it mean ticking off pro-choice groups? Yes. Common ground has a price.”