1. Religion & Spirituality
Scott P. Richert

Redefining Faith: President Obama at Notre Dame

By May 17, 2009

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President Barack Obama and Notre Dame President John Jenkins talk. (Jeff Haynes-Pool/Getty Images)

One element of President Barack Obama's commencement address at the University of Notre Dame (full text here) deserves consideration on its own. His discussion of faith tells us much not only about his own beliefs but about his approach toward those who believe:

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.

Standing in front of a crowd of thousands of students and hundreds of faculty, most of them Catholic and presumably most of those Catholics confirmed, President Obama redefined faith. The Christian understanding, of course, is summed up in Hebrews 11:1:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

"The evidence of things not seen" is quite a different formula from "the belief in things not seen." Indeed, it is exactly the opposite. The theological virtue of faith enables us (in the words of the First Vatican Council) to "believe that what God has revealed is true." In other words, it does not "necessarily admit doubt" but helps us overcome our doubts about those things that we hope for and yet cannot see.

Does that mean that those who have the theological virtue of faith "know with certainty what God has planned for us or what He asks of us"? No. Faith is not fortune-telling. But that's not the same as saying that we do not have certainty about the truth.

Having redefined faith (without apparently raising any warning flags among the Catholics in his audience), President Obama then draws erroneous conclusions from his redefinition:

This doubt should not push us away from our faith. But it should humble us. It should temper our passions, and cause us to be wary of self-righteousness. It should compel us to remain open, and curious, and eager to continue the moral and spiritual debate that began for so many of you within the walls of Notre Dame.

These are remarkable words coming from a man who expresses so few doubts of his own, who supports his actions through the most self-righteous words. When he declares that decisions regarding abortion and embryonic stem-cell research should be based on "sound science" and not "ideology," he does not mean that we should defund ESCR, since, unlike adult stem-cell research, it has yielded nothing useful, or that abortion should not be allowed because elementary biology makes it clear that the life growing inside a mother's womb is something separate from, though intimately connected with, her.

Rather, he simply identifies his own ideology with "sound science." The decision to abort one's child is "heart-wrenching," but technology allows us to do it, so that's "sound science." Parents are convinced that ESCR will cure their child of juvenile diabetes, so let's put "sound science" to work to determine if that is true. And if it is true, how can it be immoral?

It wouldn't be "fair-minded," after all, to deprive a child of a cure, just because some of us believe that it is never right to do evil so that good may come of it.

And that is ultimately where President Obama is headed with his redefinition of faith. Faith, in his formulation, "admits doubt," which should humble us and lead us to look for certainty elsewhere. And that certainty can be found in reason, shorn of the doubts that faith admits—in other words, a reason separated from faith:

And within our vast democracy, this doubt should remind us to persuade through reason, through an appeal whenever we can to universal rather than parochial principles, and most of all through an abiding example of good works, charity, kindness, and service that moves hearts and minds.

President Obama offered only one example of a universal principle—the Golden Rule, which he called "the law that binds people of all faiths and no faith together." He did not explain what he meant by "parochial principles," but in this context he did not have to. His version of faith "should temper our passions, and cause us to be wary of self-righteousness"—and clearly he means self-righteousness of the type that led people to protest his appearance at Notre Dame.

So the protection of unborn human life is a "parochial principle." If only those of us who believe that life begins at conception had a faith that would "admit doubt," then we could end the debate over abortion once and for all, by applying the Golden Rule. We don't want others interfering with our lives, so why would we interfere with theirs?

It is all so simple, so reasonable—and so wrong. And yet President Obama will be applauded today for a speech that attempted to unite, rather than divide; a speech that told us that we can all come together, as long as we set truth aside.

And that is why President Obama should never have been given a platform to speak at a Catholic university.

(Photo by Jeff Haynes-Pool/Getty Images)

May 17, 2009 at 6:31 pm
(1) Rod says:

Yes Scott, it is all so simple, so reasonable, so right —and so American. Yes President Obama should be applauded today for a speech that attempts to unite, rather than divide; a speech that tells us that we can all come together, not as Catholics but as Americans in a strong democracy that upholds the freedom of religion for everyone, as long as we respect one another’s right to believe in what each of us believes is truth and to practice what each of us accepts as God’s Will without denying the same right for others under the law.

And that is why President Obama deserves a platform, not to preach in a Catholic church, but to speak at a Catholic university in America, our country, yours and mine.

May 17, 2009 at 7:17 pm
(2) Scott P. Richert says:

Well, Rod, we can at least agree that is all “so American.” Interestingly, though, you’ve gone farther than President Obama—after all, in 3,200 words, he did not once use the word truth.

There’s a reason for that, and it gives the lie to the idea that we can simply “respect one another’s right to believe in what each of us believes is truth.” To the extent that something is true, it excludes falsehood. Two people may believe that they each possess the truth, but if their “truths” are mutually exclusive, then they cannot both be true.

To the extent that you say, “I believe this to be true, but I have no problem with you believing that the opposite is true,” then you don’t, in fact, believe your truth to be true.

That’s the problem with truth—it’s nonnegotiable. If human life begins at conception, then we can’t say, “I personally believe that human life begins at conception, but you can define human life as beginning at birth, or six months after birth, or whenever you wish.”

If the Christian Faith is true, then it has a greater claim on our conscience than “a strong democracy.” That is a lesson that a Catholic university should impart to its students. That lesson was completely missing from today’s commencement ceremony at Notre Dame.

May 17, 2009 at 11:32 pm
(3) Stephanie says:

I totally agree with you Scott.

As a recent ND grad, I was excited that Obama was speaking at commencement. It was very Catholic of ND to invite him to speak and engage in open dialogue with him. I did however take issue with the same things you wrote about here (namely, the topics on abortion and faith). When he spoke the words that faith necessitates doubt I immediately cringed. Speaking at a Catholic University, Obama should’ve checked his words about faith carefully.

Funny too, if you watch the commencement the woman professor on the left of Obama was not too thrilled with some of his words.

Thanks for writing. Obama is a lot of things, but he is no theologian, so I guess he cannot be blamed for what he purports to know about faith :) .

May 17, 2009 at 11:35 pm
(4) Stephanie says:

Anyways, Obama should be allowed to speak at a Catholic University and should be welcomed whole heartedly. Jesus didn’t shun the tax collectors but befriended them, got to know them, etc.

But honestly, I can’t believe a word he says b/c well I’ve heard too many great theologian professors speak about those same topics, that Obama just pales in comparison.

May 17, 2009 at 11:37 pm
(5) Stephanie says:

His arguments are weak.

May 17, 2009 at 11:41 pm
(6) Beau says:

I’m leaving a comment with two purposes. The first is to let readers know that not all Catholics think like Scott P. Reichert. I certainly do not. I suspect that he’ll say that means I’m not Catholic, but until he uncovers that ancient text that reveals that Scott P. Reichert is the decider of who is Catholic and who is not, I’ll sleep just fine, thanks.

The other purpose is simply to note that Scott at times isn’t able to trudge a full sentence forward without contradiction in letter and spirit. For example:

>>>”The theological virtue of faith enables us (in the words of the First Vatican Council) to ‘believe that what God has revealed is true.’ In other words, it does not ‘necessarily admit doubt’ but helps us overcome our doubts about those things that we hope for and yet cannot see.”

So the First Vatican Council advises that a virtue of faith is that it helps us overcome our doubts. But of course it doesn’t admit doubt, doesn’t acknowledge the existence of doubt in the world. Wait — wha? It helps us overcome something that isn’t there? Maybe someone else can figure this out.

One more excerpt:

>>>”To the extent that you say, ‘I believe this to be true, but I have no problem with you believing that the opposite is true,’ then you don’t, in fact, believe your truth to be true.”

Because I don’t condemn those who think differently, I can’t lay claim to believing or thinking anything?

Near as I can tell, the only thing condemning those who think differently will get a person is a column about Catholicism at about.com.

May 17, 2009 at 11:49 pm
(7) Beau says:

Stephanie, he didn’t say that faith necessitates doubt. He said that “faith necessarily admits doubt.” Those are two totally different things.

May 18, 2009 at 12:00 am
(8) Paul says:

President Obama’s speak was wonderful and true. You are jumping to conclusions about what he meant about Patriochial principles. I doubt it was meant to be as simple as you understood it. That was not what I was thinking about at all. Why are you trying to divide?

Mr. Bush’s decisions directly caused thousands to be killed (in war, poverty, poor health care, etc.). Mr. Obama’s decisions will allow abortions to occur, but lets not forget, he does not cause the abortions. The person having and performing the abortion have to live with their decision and god will sort them out.

Yes we should continue push hard for policy change, but by moving toward having less and less abortions together, we are moving towards accomplishing the real goal. For the sin of action is preceeded by the sin of thought. Only by working together to change the way the pro-choice people think can we eliminate the abomination that is abortion. It will not happen over night, and no law can change this. Only attitudes can, and those attitudes will only change when we learn to work together towards the goal of reducing abortion. Unfortuantely we cannot flip a switch, but rather we have to work hard together to turn the heavy wheel attitude. Work together to change minds, and the law will follow.

May 18, 2009 at 12:00 am
(9) Scott P. Richert says:

Beau, I’ll certainly not say that you’re not Catholic, but I will say that your logic is as faulty as your repeated misspellings of my last name.

When President Obama said that faith “necessarily admits doubt,” he didn’t mean that it “acknowledge[s] the existence of doubt in the world.” Rather, he meant that the existence of faith means that we can never be certain. That is why it is so important to note the error on which he built his argument, transforming Hebrews 11:1 from “the evidence of things not seen” to “the belief in things not seen.”

He’s saying that, since we cannot see those things, we must always have some doubt. Yet, as I explained, that is precisely the opposite of the Catholic understanding of the theological virtue of faith, which helps us to overcome doubt.

On the second point, Beau, you’re setting up a straw man. I didn’t say anything about condemning anyone. But if you say that you believe that something as important as the statement “life begins at conception” is true, yet you say, “it doesn’t matter that you believe the opposite,” then you don’t really believe that life begins at conception.

Beau, you seem to have no trouble “condemning those who think differently” from you; simply read your remarks about my column. What you do seem to have trouble understanding, however, is that truth and tolerance are two very different things, even though they may not be mutually exclusive. Truth can tolerate error, when the error is not too great; but when the error results in the deaths of 4,000 children every day of every month of every year for the past 36 years, tolerance of that error is tantamount to material cooperation in evil.

May 18, 2009 at 12:04 am
(10) Scott P. Richert says:

Stephanie, he didn’t say that faith necessitates doubt. He said that “faith necessarily admits doubt.” Those are two totally different things.

Beau, you’re forgetting that our President is a lawyer. To “admit,” in legal-speak, is to stipulate the existence of something. It is very clear from the text—not simply this line, but the sentences and paragraphs following it—that President Obama means that faith and doubt go hand-in-hand, and that the answer to the doubts of faith is reason.

May 18, 2009 at 12:10 am
(11) Scott P. Richert says:

Paul, you write: “For the sin of action is preceeded by the sin of thought.”

And you’re absolutely correct. Yet what we witnessed today was the sin of thought—a President who stood on a platform provided by a Catholic university who said that “I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away” because “at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable.”

Those are not words that will help to “change the way the pro-choice people think” but rather words that will convince them that they can continue to think as they think now. And those words have been given added weight today by the venue in which they were uttered.

May 18, 2009 at 12:34 am
(12) Paul says:

His words today were not meant to change the way pro-choice people think. His words today were to engage them in a discussion.

No one can sway attitutes without first engaging them. I think of Mother Teresa. Could she have been effective by standing on a pulpit in front of the sick and dying and telling them to just heal themselves? They did not know how and they were too weak to do it themselves. The pro choice are such.

She engaged with them. She listened to them and suffered with them. Only then would they listen to her. After she lived in their shoes, rather than preaching from the pulpit she showed them the way. So too should we.

Some would say she was ineffective, saving a few small lives here and there while still masses were suffering and dying and not hearing her word of hope. Yet she moved people, and she changed attitudes across the world. Small steps in the right direction.

And all this she did for her last 50 years with huge doubts. A faith that had failed, yet a mission that continued with a belief in things not seen. I don’t know, Mr. Obama’s “redefiniton” of faith seems pretty accurate to me.

May 18, 2009 at 9:22 am
(13) Brian Sullivan says:

I wonder exactly what “open dialogue” and “discussion” took place at ND Sunday. Did the President take questions after his speech? Did he ask questions of others on the stage? Even in a larger context, the President has shown repeatedly that he is *not* listening to those who differ with his views.

Mother Theresa did not live “her last 50 years with huge doubts.” She lived a dark night of the soul, without feelings of consolation or God’s presence. That is not doubt, that is God’s love at wok in her life: a light that is so intense that it becomes darkness; a presence so close that it seems not to be there.

Mother Theresa was an outspoken opponent of abortion. She said it was “a war against the child.”



May 18, 2009 at 10:31 am
(14) Linda says:

My truth and your truth CAN be different. That’s one of the amazing things about personal experience. Personal. I can only experience things as the PERSON I am. Anyone who tells me they have divine knowledge that I somehow lack, well, let’s just say they don’t know everything.

May 18, 2009 at 10:32 am
(15) Linda says:

TRUTH is non-negotiable, but to be arrogant enough to think you know the WHOLE TRUTH about anything, well, I think that is at best foolish.

May 18, 2009 at 12:06 pm
(16) Beau says:

“Truth can tolerate error, when the error is not too great.”

According to conservative Catholics interacting with U.S. politics, the “error” is “not too great” whenever the issue is the death penalty, or unjust war, or torture, or the failure to pursue social justice. Only on the single question of abortion is the “error” “too great.”

Here’s a statistic: per the U.N. (via Wikipedia), 4,000 people *per hour* (rather than per day) die of hunger. That happens largely because the public policy of the world’s only remaining superpower allows it to happen.

And before there’s anything said about using the qualifier “largely,” consider that even if abortion is criminalized, abortions will continue to happen. The fact that the abortion is legal is not the reason all abortions happen in the U.S.

Scott (my apologies for spelling your last name incorrectly), I am anti-abortion myself, or “pro-life” if you wish to use that terminology. But boiling all of Catholicism down to one issue is folly.

At least be consistent. Scott, it’s fine if you oppose a speaker at Notre Dame who supports abortion rights — but will you also oppose all speakers who support the death penalty, all who support unjust war, all who support torture, all who support the erosion of social justice?

May 18, 2009 at 12:40 pm
(17) Scott P. Richert says:

Beau, apparently you’re a newcomer to this site, because otherwise you’d know that I have repeatedly taken flack for suggesting that Catholics should heed the words of Pope John Paul II on torture and both JPII and Benedict XVI on the war in Iraq.

The death penalty is a different issue, because, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church makes clear, the death penalty is licit, unlike abortion, which never is.

Frankly, I don’t think that Catholic institutions should honor a president who prosecuted a war that two consecutive pontiffs judged unjust. But that is in ADDITION TO not honoring a president who is pro-abortion.

We should not boil all of Catholicism down to one issue (and again, if you think that I’m doing so, just go back and read my articles on “Where Faith and Politics Intersect”). But if you think that it was OK to provide Barack Obama with a platform to propagate error, then you’re not suggesting that we need to consider other issues IN ADDITION TO abortion; you’re suggesting that other issues can be SUBSTITUTED FOR abortion.

May 18, 2009 at 1:08 pm
(18) Brian Sullivan says:

Mother Theresa did not work “for her last 50 years with huge doubts.” She experienced a dark night of the soul: a light so intense that all seems dark; a intimacy so close that you feel only absence. These are not doubts, but are that experience of *nada* of St. John of the cross; a gift of God to his saints.

Mother Theresa was a fierce opponent of abortion. For those who are rightly concerned about unjust war, she said “But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child…”. There is no greater unjust war.

May 18, 2009 at 3:02 pm
(19) Beau says:


“Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

“If, however, nonlethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

“Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”

If you can give me an example of a case in which capital punishment is “the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against (an) unjust aggressor,” I’m listening. I accept the assertion by the Church that these cases are “practically nonexistent.”

NO avowed *stated supporter* of the death penalty that I know of in U.S. politics is willing to subject his/her backing of capital punishment to this near impossible standard. Proponents of the death penalty in the U.S. hold a “punishment fits the crime” view, not a “defense of human lives” view.

May 18, 2009 at 3:14 pm
(20) Scott P. Richert says:

Beau, I’ll take your repeated attempts to change the topic as evidence that I’m correct that you’re not suggesting that we need to consider other issues IN ADDITION TO abortion; you’re suggesting that other issues can be SUBSTITUTED FOR abortion.

May 18, 2009 at 5:53 pm
(21) Jess says:

He was so eloquent with his speech. He wasn’t necessarily walking on eggshells when he delivered his message because he addressed every topic, but instead of berating the audience with the importance of his own views, he emphasized the need for common ground and a sense of community in order to work towards a solution. He also acknowledged that some of these issues will never really be resolved but it cannot hinder people from living together harmoniously.

In terms of abortion, it was great that he brought this up in spite of the protesters and claimed that the real issue at hand is to prevent the need for abortions in the first place, something that could have been widely disputed at the Catholic Notre Dame, but instead he was met with applause.

May 18, 2009 at 10:26 pm
(22) Paul says:

Brian, Jesus was not afraid to work with the prostitutes and tax collectors. We should not be afraid to work with the abortionist. The right direction is to lower the number of abortions, period. All other talk here is senseless rhetoric of people that like to hear their own typing. It is better to take small steps in the right direction then to be stuck in place.

It is funny how you feel you know Mother Theresa’s inner thoughts so well. Are you her or have you stood in her shoes? Your interpretation of her letters is different than mine. Are you right and I wrong? I guess we will not agree on my interpretation of her doubt, so it is senseless to argue about it. I will never agree with you no matter what you say. No matter what evidence you give me I will still never agree with you, so don’t even bother trying.

However, if you stop trying to prove me wrong, and start trying to find common ground with my arguements, then maybe it will be a more constructive conversation. As it is now, I won’t bother listening to what you say. I’m sure the abortionist feel the same way on that more important issue.

You are hurting your cause by causing division. You cannot inform people of truth through complex scriptures that they do not even believe and expect them to believe your interpretation of truth. You must work with them and help them to learn it for themselves(for I am sure you are certain that your truth is the only truth, because of your infallible interpreations). Strangely, much as a parent learns from his child, you may even learn some small things from those you teach if you open your closed mind.

May 18, 2009 at 11:57 pm
(23) pazimm says:

It would be a happy world if we could all just hold hands and be happy dispite our differences of opinion. In the case of abortion this world would silent all opposition to the practise. Game over. Abortion proponets win. And even more wonderful they wouldn’t be bothered by the nagging arguments of prolifers. It’s easy to say accept my opinion and lets all just get along when your opinion is the law of the land. Obama very cleverly worded his argument in a way that makes anyone dissenting or arguing with him appear to be the bad one. After all he just wants everyone to be friends. I’m sorry Mr. President I canot be a friend with someone that voted 4 time against a law that would have protected abortion survivers. Throw in stem cell funding and lifting of the few restictions we had… where is our common ground for friendship? Oh you say that you want abortion rare.. ok Let the women see the baby by way of ultra sound. It won’t happen. You see you really don’t want abortion rare dispite your rethoric. Your actions speak louder than words.

May 19, 2009 at 12:05 pm
(24) Alice says:

Thanks Scott! I agree totally. This man never should have been elected president, never mind stand with all arrogance in front of so-called Catholics, and tell them their faith! Idiots all. They deserve the messiah they have chosen.

May 19, 2009 at 1:01 pm
(25) Ann says:

This might be the best analysis of this debacle that I have read so far.

May 19, 2009 at 1:31 pm
(26) Dixie says:

Scott.. as always, you’ve opened up a broad band of discussion… Catholics come in all shapes and sizes… and viewpoints… the one thing I’ve learned in my spiritual journey over the past 50-years… just because you may disagree with the dogma of the Catholic Church… does not make the Church wrong.

Always an informative read here… regardless of the topic.

May 19, 2009 at 2:11 pm
(27) Scott P. Richert says:

just because you may disagree with the dogma of the Catholic Church… does not make the Church wrong.

What a wonderful way to put it! Thanks, Dixie.

May 19, 2009 at 3:17 pm
(28) Tina says:

Pazimm said “Obama very cleverly worded his argument in a way that makes anyone dissenting or arguing with him appear to be the bad one.” and “You see you really don’t want abortion rare dispite (sic) your rethoric (sic). Your actions speak louder than words.”

This was exactly how I felt listening to Obama preach to those at ND his own brand of Christianity. In fact, I felt very sorry for those who applauded him so loudly, perhaps not realizing how they had been taken in by his smooth sounding words. Yet, it is for such charismatic evil that we must be on guard, for it is so very easy to slide down that slippery slope of relativistic “spirituality” and to thus stand idly by – or worse, standing and cheering – while truth, and the Cross, are trampled.

May 19, 2009 at 5:39 pm
(29) Paul says:

The majority of pro-choicers do not think abortion is a good thing, they see it as a last resort when self-control or birth control did not work, or a rare necessity in extreme cases.

Most pro-choicers and even a large percent of “pro-lifers” have tolerance for a rape victim taking a morning-after pill. I think catholisism will never convince anyone on that front, and I suspect that one day in the far off future the church may reinterpret things and accept that point of view.

However when it comes to later and later abortions, each day added will bring more and supporters of the existing catholic view (no one thinks we should be able to kill a baby at 8.5 months). The key is to continue to push to move the public view of the date that life begins back, closer and closer to the date of conception. If it goes from months (where the embryo is obviously a baby) to weeks to days (where the same can be proven with the help of science), a huge amount of progress will have been made. Some of this is happening and is working.

Of course the catholic church loses alot of credibility right out the gate because of the continuing stance on birth control. This view causes cause most of the public to roll their eyes and assume that everything the church is saying is similar nonsense.

Birth control is proactive and abortion is reactive. In good faith they may avoid birth control, but then in desperate reaction they may resort to abortion. If the church had interpreted god’s will properly and accepted birth control in the first place, then the abortion rate could be reduced enormously. The churches mis-interpretation of god’s will on birth control is resulting in far more abortions across the world (i.e. Africa…) than any law Obama could make. Who is more to blame for the abortion rate across the world then?

May 20, 2009 at 1:57 am
(30) Trust Jesus says:

Jesus said He would send the Holy Spirit to guarantee that His Church could not err when it came to Truth. John Paul 2′s Theology of the Body show the beauty of the church’s teaching on sexuality and remember mother teresa’s wise words abortion is the death of conscience.

May 21, 2009 at 1:58 pm
(31) TOMCAT says:

I am thrilled that a lot of people can “see through” President Obama. He is no theologian and in no way going to persuade any Christian faith towards abortion and stem-cell research. IN NO WAY should he HAVE NOT been allowed to speak at the university. He is the president of the United States!

June 3, 2009 at 5:33 pm
(32) Ajuka Paschal Nnaemeka says:

President Obama is only the president of the United States and not God.Obama can never be God.His level of belief portrays enough faithlessness and his unsound theological utterances manisfest weakness in faith.

September 25, 2009 at 11:00 pm
(33) Chuck says:

It is very, very simple. 1 minute before birth we can execute/abort a human being and call it a “choice”. 1 minute after birth (120 seconds later) we can execute/abort a human being and now its called a homicide.

The youth are not so naive.

And we’re frankly fed up with the cheap rhetoric. As an American who spent his most vulnerable moments of life in a place where his execution was sanctioned by his government, I will not fall to the complacency my parent’s generation did.

Obama was absolutely right when he said, “the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable.”

My brothers and sisters are dying while, “most of the public [rolls] their eyes and [assumes] that everything the church is saying is … nonsense.”

“The majority of pro-choicers do not think abortion is a good thing, they see it as a last resort when self-control or birth control did not work, or a rare necessity in extreme cases.” That shallow mindset is precisely the problem.

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