Obama at Notre Dame And What to Do About It
Dear Pro-Life Friend,
March 24, 2009, a sixteen-year-old girl from Jersey City, NJ, who had seen our abortion pictures said; “Honestly, before I watched this video I was all for legal abortion …. You don’t really think of these babies as human beings yet until you see their little bodies destroyed.” On that same day, a twenty-nine-year-old woman from Knoxville, TN, who had just seen the same pictures, said; “I know my life has been transformed ….” Still on the same day, a fifty-year-old email writer (no gender or hometown listed) who also saw the pictures said; “It is more barbaric than I ever imagined.”
And perhaps abortion is more barbaric than could ever be imagined by Fr. John Jenkins, the president of the University of Notre Dame. Could his failure to fully appreciate the horror of abortion account for his misguided choice of Barack Obama to present this year’s commencement address — and receive an honorary doctorate? In announcing the invitation, Fr. Jenkins spoke of the historical significance of America’s “first African-American president.” In Fr. Jenkins’ mind, the novelty of Mr. Obama’s race apparently offsets the depravity of his support for killing human embryos, fetuses and newborns. Despite Mr. Obama’s genocidal trifecta, Fr. Jenkins defended the decision to honor him by asserting that the president has “spoken eloquently and movingly” about race. Fr. Jenkins seems to believe that what Mr. Obama says about race is more important than what he does about stem cell harvesting, abortion and infanticide. Most strangely, he called Mr. Obama a “healer.” Laying aside the fact that recent polling by the Pew Research Center shows Mr. Obama to have the most polarized job approval ratings of any modern president (PewResearch.org, April 2, 2009) how can any serial killer fairly be called a “healer”?
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Fr. Jenkins, of course, says the invitation “should not be taken as condoning or endorsing … [Mr. Obama’s] positions on … abortion and stem cell research.” He is careful not to condemn Mr. Obama’s barbarity. He will go no further than refusing to “condone” it. The Associated Press reported a story on April 9 (“Ten Holy Cross priests object to Obama invitation”) which quotes Cecilia Prinster, president of the Alumni Association, speaking directly to that point: “‘Although we disagree with Mr. Obama on some core issues, we must not condemn ….’” But if you can’t condemn someone for killing full-term born babies, who might Ms. Prinster suggest could ever qualify for condemnation?
Another prominent Catholic who is nominally pro-life, U.S. Senator (and rabid Obama fan) Robert P. Casey (D-PA) has confidently boasted that “I know Barack Obama.” Then with a straight face, he assured us that Mr. Obama will “… pursue the common good by seeking common ground, rather than trying to divide us.” (The New York Times, “Casey, an Abortion Opponent, Praises Obama,” August 27, 2008). If Mr. Obama’s abortion agenda represents the pursuit of “common ground,” why did Michael Gerson title his April 2, 2009 Washington Post column “Obama’s Abortion Extremism”? The National Right to Life Committee (NLRC) verifies the extremity of Mr. Obama’s record. He opposed bans on partial-birth abortion and then lied about it, saying he would support any ban with a health exception. He well knows that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in Doe v. Bolton that the health exception must include mental health, which means emotional wellbeing. In other words, the woman herself decides whether she qualifies for her abortion by telling us how she feels.
Even worse, Mr. Obama has, on multiple occasions, opposed legislation which would have protected full-term babies born alive after botched abortions failed to kill them. He also lied about that and said he would have supported this legislation had it contained clarifying language, which had, in fact, been inserted into the bill. As a senator, Mr. Obama also sponsored The Freedom of Choice Act, which would “nullify all state and federal laws which ‘interfere with’ access to abortion before ‘viability’ (as defined by the abortionist).” He told Planned Parenthood that the first thing he would do as president would be to sign the bill. NLRC quotes the National Organization for Women as exulting that the bill would “sweep away hundreds of anti-abortion laws [and] policies.” There is no serious disagreement that he intends to enact healthcare “reform” which would mandate universal abortion coverage for every American woman.
He wants to cut off all federal aid to crisis pregnancy centers. He refuses to support legislation requiring parental notice as a predicate to abortion for minors. He is funding the killing of human embryos for stem cell experimentation. He is sending tax money to foreign abortion providers. He has said he doesn’t want his daughters to be “punished with a baby” if they “make a mistake” (CNN, March 29, 2008, town hall forum in Johnstown, PA). Dawn Johnson, former lawyer for the National Abortion Rights Action League and Mr. Obama’s choice to become the Assistant Attorney General who heads the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, once filed a brief in which she incorporated footnote language which suggested that restricting abortion rights made pregnancy “disturbingly suggestive of involuntary servitude, prohibited by the 13th Amendment, in that forced pregnancy requires a woman to provide continuous physical service to the fetus in order to further the state’s asserted interest” (FoxNews.com, “Senate GOP Considers Filibuster …” April 7, 2009). One is reminded of “Catholic” Gov. Mario Cuomo’s Notre Dame abortion speech. He argued that society’s refusal to pay the costs of killing the children of the poor would “burden the already disadvantaged.” Where is Mr. Obama’s “common ground”?
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It is easy to trivialize abortion, as Fr. Jenkins so consistently does, when you don’t have to look at it. Ironically, students and faculty members at Catholic universities, which are private schools, are far less likely to ever see the horror of abortion than students and faculties at public schools. Private universities can and do ban the display of our Genocide Awareness Project. Public schools are powerless to keep us off their campuses. Literally millions of public school students have seen our abortion photos over the last ten years; virtually no Catholic schools will permit huge, outdoor displays of abortion photos such as ours. Ignorance of the evil abortion represents may be at least part of the reason that Fr. Jenkins believes his decision to invite Barack Obama to graduation is fully compatible with the school’s theoretical opposition to abortion. If so, he would not be alone.
ChicagoTribune.com (March 25, 2009, “Abortion debate dogs Obama’s plan to deliver commencement address”) quotes an all-too-typical clueless student: “‘I think it’s really cool that he is coming here,’ said Megan Lyman …. ‘I don’t think it is about pro-life or pro-choice. It will be a good experience for everyone to hear him.’” No one who has seen abortion and has a functioning conscience could make such a flippant statement. Then the Associated Press reported on March 28, 2009 (“Obama Notre Dame invite stirs Catholic debate”) the remarks of a student who was even more confused: “Most students are excited Obama is coming, and some are embarrassed by ‘the idea that Notre Dame is a radical place and that everyone is up in arms, when it’s not,’ said Gavin Payne, a senior from Seattle.” This young man isn’t embarrassed that the commencement speaker is the most radical pro-abort to ever inhabit the White House. Nor is he embarrassed that so few students are “up in arms” about it. He is embarrassed that people might think “everyone” is up in arms about it. He doesn’t see abortion as “radical.” He sees opposition to abortion as “radical.” He only thinks opposition to abortion is radical because he has probably never seen what abortion is.
Next there is Greer Hannan, executive editor of the Irish Rover, the independent Catholic newspaper. She has her reservations about Mr. Obama’s visit but her real concern seems to be that “‘… groups will use the controversy to promote partisan political agendas and do it in bad taste,’ using tactics like graphic posters of aborted fetuses.” What this young woman fails to grasp (along with most of the rest of the pro-life movement) is that the reason Fr. Jenkins can get away with putting his thumb in the eye of pro-life bishops, students, faculty and alumni is because abortion is a total abstraction at Notre Dame. Why? Because confused adults have taught confused kids that it is “bad taste” to publicly expose that portion of the truth about abortion which is so awful that it can’t be communicated through the written or spoken word. Do they really believe that it is good taste to cover up that truth? These are fine, well-intentioned people but they really do seem to care more about etiquette than justice.
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On March 24, 2009, Star-Telegram.com ran a Chicago Tribune story (“Some at Notre Dame object to Obama giving commencement speech”) which quotes perhaps the most disoriented kid on campus:
The prospect of graphic abortion photos lining areas leading into the ceremony, meanwhile, has some students fearing that their day of accomplishment will be tarnished.
‘Both my grandmothers are coming,’ said Billy Lyman …. ‘They don’t want to see that on their way into the ceremony. Nobody should be subjected to that on such a happy day. I’m really concerned the day is going to be marred.’
“Marred”? If he thinks abortion pictures can mar a student’s commencement, he should see how abortion procedures can mar a baby’s life! These poor students are so out of it that they might not even object if Rev. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale were chosen to be their commencement speaker. Rev. Ragsdale is the new Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is a lesbian cleric who is also a past chairman of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. She has proclaimed abortion to be a “blessing.” She adds that abortionists are “heroes” and “saints” who are “engaged in holy work”(Telegraph.co.uk, April 2, 2009, “Abortion is a blessing and abortionists are doing holy work …”).
This disastrous abortion cover-up has become so pervasive that even pro-life activists are now censoring the truth as frenetically as does the abortion industry. We love the pro-life students at Notre Dame but they are part of the reason Fr. Jenkins can honor this abortion extremist and do it with such impunity. Notre Dame isn’t bothered by abortion because the pro-life student groups are shielding the university from the truth.
Very recently, when we participated in a pro-life planning conference call with Notre Dame students and other activists, the students reiterated their long-standing insistence that no abortion photos be displayed on their campus. In place of photos, they are handing out white carnations. What will anyone looking at a white carnation learn about the humanity of unborn children or the inhumanity of abortion? The same thing they will learn by looking at empty red envelopes. No so much. In fact, it unwittingly trivializes abortion.
The problem with white carnations and red envelopes and red roses and countless other abstract expressions of opposition to abortion is that they merely express an opinion. And in so doing, they actually reinforce the idea that abortion is not about facts, it is about feelings. Americans believe decisions regarding nominal evils are best left to personal discretion. They value individual liberty so highly that they will only restrict it to ban activity so evil that no one can reasonably insist on the right to do it. When we cover up the magnitude of the evil abortion represents, we allow the other side to make the case that it is only a nominal evil, best left to personal “choice.”
Gallup reports that fully two-thirds of Americans believe abortion should be legal in the first trimester of pregnancy. These people don’t look at a red envelope and see “one child who died in an abortion.” They look at that envelope and they see … an envelope. Nothing more. They don’t believe abortion kills a baby. They believe abortion prevents a baby from ever existing. This why they see abortion as the lesser of two evils, if they see it as any evil at all. But an abortion photo proves that there really was a baby there and that his abortion was an evil of sufficient magnitude to justify criminalizing the act.
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The Red Envelope campaign estimates that 2.5 million pieces of its mail have now reached the White House. This correspondence came in while the president was in Europe, apologizing for America. Counting postage and paper, each envelope probably cost about one dollar to reach the White House mail room on its way to the landfill. It made the sender feel good but it was seen by only a handful of low-level civil service employees. The president will be much more impressed by the fact that 66% of Americans believe first-trimester abortion should be legal than he will be by the 2.5 million empty envelopes which are now municipal garbage. $2.5 million would have bought a lot of abortion photos with which to sharply reduce that 66% abortion approval ratio. In the process, a lot of babies could have been saved.
A few years ago some college students came up to our display at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., and blocked our abortion signs with a large sign of their own. They lectured us angrily about how awful we were for showing these horrible pictures. I assumed they were pro-abortion. It turned out they were pro-life. It turned out they were students from Notre Dame.
In a sense, it was these pro-life students who invited Mr. Obama to Notre Dame. They made abortion invisible, which allowed their adversaries to make it seem inconsequential. We want to show them how our pictures can change everything at Notre Dame. They won’t let us onto their campus, but with your help, we can make everyone coming to graduation see the truth on the sides and backs of our billboard trucks as they drive onto the campus. With even more of your help, we may be able to fly one or more of our huge aerial billboards around the golden dome of the Main Building and the steeple of Sacred Heart Basilica!
P.S. On April 11, 2009 a 29-year-old woman from Camden, TN, saw our website and wrote to say; “I want to know why these photos cannot be used at pro-life rallies.” She is asking a valid question and our answer is: We are committed to showing the truth whether some pro-lifers like it or not. With your help, we are going to make certain that Notre Dame sees just how consequential abortion actually is.