President Barack Obama strode head-on Sunday into the stormy abortion debate and told graduates at America's leading Roman Catholic university that both sides 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 US 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.