He stayed away from controversial topics like football

Incredibly, this morning’s top story was President Obama’s commencement speech at Notre Dame.   The appearance stoked controversy over the issue of abortion, but of course despite some protests and counter-protests nothing was resolved.

The President and his speechwriting team, however, handled the issue well.  He wisely mentioned it in his speech, rather than trying to avoid or marginalize his opposition.  And, despite calling for civil debate, admitted that there are deep philosophical issues between the sides. The biggest acknowledgment of this was the President’s support of provisions which would allow doctors to refuse procedures they find morally objectionable – and something the more radical wings of the pro-abortion movement rail against.

It’s a smart move, politically.  Recent Gallup poll results that have shown that, despite a continuing tolerance for abortion rights, the American people are identifying more and more as pro-life.  In other words, the pro-life’s strategy of educating the public, organizing campuses, and talking about a “culture of life” over the past 15 years has paid dividends, and politicians can no longer use buzzwords like “abortion on demand” without appearing radical.

The issue will come up again as the drama surrounding President Obama’s first Supreme Court nomination unfolds, and the road map for a middle ground is set: Deflect debate over the legality of abortion by discussing social measures to reduce abortion.

There is, however, a flaw in this logic should be the next rhetorical conquest for the pro-life movement: that social measures which reduce abortions suggest that abortions are bad.  If they are considered bad, there must be a reason why – and that may be the next question President Obama has to answer in a “civilized debate.”

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