Obama Delves Into Abortion Debate at Notre Dame

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President Barack Obama reached out to people of faith Sunday on the contentious issue of abortion.

At a commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame, he hinted at his interest in drafting a sensible conscience clause. Such a clause would protect pro-life healthcare providers from taking part in abortions.

Obama Calls for a Sensible Conscience Clause

The president announced earlier this spring that he would like to overturn a federal conscience clause developed by the Bush administration.

Click play for a report from CBN News' Efrem Graham, followed by comments from CBN News White House Correspondent David Brody.

But at Notre Dame, he specifically called for drafting, as he calls it a "sensible conscience clause."   However, no one knows exactly what that might mean. 

The president was clearly seeking common ground on the abortion debate. Ever since the campaign trail, he has talked about reducing abortions in the U.S.

"So let's work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions," then-presidential candidate Obama said. "Let's reduce unintended pregnancies. Let's make adoption more available, and let's provide care and support for women who do carry their child to term."

Protestor Voice Their Opposition

The president's speech may have appealed to moderate Catholics. But angry protestors outside the commencement hall showed the angry opposition present among the conservative community.

"You cannot say that I'm interested in social justice, and soup kitchens and the like, and health care, and at the same time be pro-abortion," said Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League. "He's got a real problem in the Catholic community."

Whether Obama's words will translate into a serious abortion reduction initiative, and a sensible conscience clause -- has many on both sides of the debate waiting to see what will happen.

Some Alumni Angry with University Administration 

The leadership at Notre Dame has come under fire for inviting a pro-abortion president to address its graduates.

Now that the speech is over, some alumni say they will continue to call the leaders to account for their actions. CBN News spoke with Nikolas T. Nikas, the president of the Bioethics Defense Fund, who is also a Notre Dame graduate.

"I think that those Notre Dame graduates who are outraged by this will continue to address the university administration, and they will not simply go away and to be forgotten," he said.

"I think this is an issue Notre Dame has drawn a line and said, 'we don't care what the bishops say or what the Christian community says or what the pro-life community says' and I think they have backed themselves into a terrible corner. And I don't think those who value life are going to let them get out of that corner," he added. 

One Notre Dame alum refused to speak at the ceremony in protest of the president's invitation.

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CBN News
By Heather Sells and Charlene Israel

By Heather Sells and Charlene Israel

CBN News

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