How will President Obama frame the abortion debate? In giving the commencement address at Notre Dame he can’t avoid it. Will he acknowledge what more and more Catholics already know — the GOP never delivered on their anti-abortion promises?
I think he will deliver a message that inspires us all to attack the problems behind abortion — poverty, birth control, education, concentrating on measures that help reduce the numbers of unwanted pregnancies. Even mentioning birth control will be controversial at a Catholic University, or will it? Have most Catholics realized the conundrum of being against abortion and birth control? I know the Church hasn’t, but have most of the Church’s followers?
I think he will point out our areas of agreement and will highlight that Americans agree on more than they disagree on. He is more in tune with religious people on his stance about unjust war, harsh interrogations, social justice issues, the environment, protecting family wages, attacking the underlying causes of abortion.
A recent poll by Quinnipiac University found 56 percent of Americans think Notre Dame should not rescind its invitation to Obama – among Catholics the number was an even higher 60 percent.
This speech can’t ignore abortion, but also must be about the graduates. Emphasis on abortion gives too much attention to the protesters who strive to be in the limelight. They use horrible ways to attract attention to a debate that doesn’t change minds. Those who concentrate on abortion are increasingly isolated as the debate has moved on to finding solutions.
Will this speech be another that history points to as a turning point? During his time as a candidate he addressed some difficult issues such as race and made all of us think harder, inspired us to be better. Will this be another history-making moment?