| WASHINGTON, April 29
WASHINGTON, April 29 President Barack Obama
said on Wednesday he favored abortion rights for women but that
passing a law guaranteeing those rights was not his top
priority, trying to avoid inflaming divisions over the issue.
"I believe that women should have the right to choose,"
Obama told a news conference marking his first 100 days in
office. "But I think that the most important thing we can do to
tamp down some of the anger surrounding this issue is to focus
on those areas that we can agree on."
Noting that the number of U.S. teen pregnancies had begun
to spike upward after a decline, Obama said he had started a
task force within his Domestic Policy Council that is working
with groups both supporting abortion rights and opposing
abortion to seek a consensus on how to deal with the issue.
"I would like to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies
that result in women feeling compelled to get an abortion, or
at least considering getting an abortion, particularly if we
can reduce the number of teen pregnancies," Obama said.
As a candidate, Obama supported the Freedom of Choice Act,
which would eliminate federal, state and local restrictions on
His stance on the issue, as well as his decision to lift
many restrictions on stem cell research, angered groups opposed
to abortion, including many Catholic and other Christian
Asked about the Freedom of Choice Act at Wednesday's news
conference, Obama said it "is not the highest legislative
"My view on ... abortion, I think, has been very
consistent," Obama said. "I think abortion is a moral issue and
an ethical issue."
"There are some who suggest that this is simply an issue
about women's freedom and that there's no other
considerations," he said. "I think, look, this is an issue that
people have to wrestle with and families and individual women
have to wrestle with."
Obama's stance on abortion has touched off a controversy
over his invitation to speak at commencement ceremonies at
Notre Dame University next month.
Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard law professor and former U.S.
ambassador to the Vatican, said earlier this week she would not
accept a top honor at Notre Dame's commencement ceremony
because of the Roman Catholic university's decision to invite
Several bishops also have criticized the university for the
(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)