Kudos to President Obama for delivering a forceful commencement address at the University of Notre Dame on May 17 with our whole nation, still embroiled in heated controversy over the moral rights of the unborn, seemingly in the audience. It is also commendable that the White House included in the official speech transcript the words of a heckler, “Abortion is murder! Stop killing children!” and the President’s response, “We're fine, everybody...We're not going to shy away from things that are uncomfortable sometimes.”
In keeping with this challenge, the president called the nation to "work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term."
Our president went on to challenge Notre Dame graduates and our nation reach to a higher level of dialog about controversial issues, using “fair-minded words” and to “open our hearts and our minds to those who may not think like we do or believe what we do [in order to] “discover at least the possibility of common ground.”
Then, the President elaborated (italics mine): In this world of competing claims about what is right and what is true, have confidence in the values with which you've been raised and educated. Be unafraid to speak your mind when those values are at stake. Hold firm to your faith and allow it to guide you on your journey. Stand as a lighthouse. But remember too that the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt. It is the belief in things not seen. It is beyond our capacity as human beings to know with certainty what God has planned for us or what He asks of us, and those of us who believe must trust that His wisdom is greater than our own.
On this note, we can certainly hope for a new era of “fair-minded words”– one in which we would listen carefully to the words of another president who spoke at a Notre Dame commencement on another May 17. In 1981, it was President Reagan at the podium. Referring to our founding fathers, he said:
“They gave us more than a nation. They brought to all mankind for the first time the concept that man was born free, that each of us has inalienable rights, ours by the grace of God....”
Then, six years later, President Reagan proclaimed January 18, 1987 as National Sanctity of Human Life Day with these words:
“Our Founding Fathers pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor in the Declaration of Independence. They announced their unbreakable bonds with its immutable truths that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.'' Americans of every succeeding generation have cherished our heritage of God-given human rights and have been willing to sacrifice for those rights, just as our Founders did. Those rights are given by God to all alike. Medical evidence leaves no room for doubt that the distinct being developing in a mother's womb is both alive and human. This merely confirms what common sense has always told us. Abortion kills unborn babies and denies them forever their rights to ``Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.'' Our Declaration of Independence holds that governments are instituted among men to secure these rights, and our Constitution -- founded on these principles -- should not be read to sanction the taking of innocent human life.”
Now, President Obama has proclaimed that “those of us who believe must trust that His (God’s) wisdom is greater than our own.” But where do we find God’s wisdom? God reveals His wisdom both in nature and in His written Word, the Bible. In His natural revelation, we can see, courtesy of YouTube, the awesome development of the human being in the mother’s womb. Thanks to the work of many women’s centers across our nation, many women contemplating abortion respond to this “natural revelation” by carrying their baby to full term.
In His written revelation, the Bible, God makes it clear that it is not “beyond our capacity to know with certainty...what God asks of us.” For example, God spoke to the prophet Jeremiah, saying “ "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations (Jeremiah 1:5);" Or, the God, of whom King David said, “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them (Psalm 139:16).
So, we conclude with thanks to President Obama for his challenge to “trust that His (God’s) wisdom is greater than our own.” We can be certain that the Creator God values the life of the unborn. We can also be certain of the statistics from the U.S. Census Report of 2006 (See Table 77). The report reveals that Black Americans are no longer replacing themselves because there are more deaths than live births. According to Protecting Black Life, “35% of the abortions in the United States are performed on African American women, while they represent only 13% of the female population of the country. African Americans are the only minority in America that is on the decline in population.” Let us pray that President Obama will not “shy away from things that are uncomfortable.” May his speech at Notre Dame be remembered as a turning point– a time at which he turns toward becoming a protector of the moral and civil rights of both the African American minority and of the unborn of all humanity.