President Barack Obama's call for civil discourse and "fair-minded words" in the ongoing abortion debate may have garnered loud applause from Notre Dame graduates but some pro-lifers were not moved by his speech on Sunday.
Addressing the president, John Knight, senior director for development at Desiring God ministries, posed, "Do words mean anything to you, Mr. President?"
To make his case, Knight cited the letter Obama referred to in his commencement address at the University of Notre Dame, one of the country's most prestigious Catholic universities.
Obama recalled during his speech an e-mail he received from a Christian pro-life doctor who was irked by a posting on the president's website stating he would fight "right-wing ideologues who want to take away a woman's right to choose."
The doctor did not ask Obama to oppose abortion "at this point," but he urged the president to speak about the issue of abortion "in fair-minded words"
"After I read the doctor's letter, I wrote back to him and I thanked him. And I didn't change my underlying position, but I did tell my staff to change the words on my website," Obama said Sunday.
"And I said a prayer that night that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me. Because when we do that – when we open up our hearts and our minds to those who may not think precisely like we do or believe precisely what we believe – that's when we discover at least the possibility of common ground."
Knight, father of a son with significant disabilities, was not convinced.
"So, is that the point, Mr. President – we get to talk, but the underlying positions get to remain the same?" Knight posed. "The only thing that actually changes is we think a little more charitably about each other? Please, sir, tell me how that is supposed to make a difference?" he wrote on the BBC Disability Ministry blog.
Raising more questions, Knight asked, "When do we get to talk about how the behavior of men on virtually every measurable level has gotten worse since abortion was made legal across the United States?
"Men are more likely to leave women today, more likely to be abusive, less likely to care for the children they father, and less likely to consider the consequences of their sexual behavior."
He continued, "When do we get to talk about the cultural expectation that a mother is expected to abort her baby with an identified disability in the womb? ... What do you call a 90% abortion rate, Mr. President? If it were babies of any ethnicity, you would rightly call it genocide."
On Sunday, Obama repeated his longtime stance of calling for a reduction to the number of women seeking abortions and the number of unintended pregnancies.
But many, particularly evangelicals, are not satisfied with reducing the number of abortions. They want an end to the killing of babies.
A Gallup survey last week revealed that for the first time since it began polling Americans on the abortion issue in 1995, a majority of Americans say they are pro-life. Nearly a quarter of Americans say abortion should be illegal in all circumstances and 37 percent say abortion should be legal only in a few circumstances whereas only 15 percent say it should be legal under most circumstances.
"Mr. President, you said yourself that 'the strong too often dominate the weak.' Please explain to me, Mr. President, who is more weak and thus more worthy of your protection as the leader of the free world than a baby in his or her mother's womb?" Knight posed.