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Obama implores Notre Dame to maintain tradition of open minds and open hearts

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Full text of Obama speech

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President Barack Obama today implored graduates at Notre Dame to maintain the school's tradition of  "Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words."

He directly addressed the row over abortion which has attended his commencement speech and said that both sides must stop demonizing one another.

Obama acknowledged that "the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable."

But he pleaded for all in the graduating class to stop "reducing those with differing views to caricature. Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words. It's a way of life that always has been the Notre Dame tradition."

"I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away," the president said.

Notre Dame has been embroiled in controversy since it invited Obama, who supports abortion rights but says the procedure should be rare, to speak at the school and receive an honorary degree.

However, the rousing reception for Obama - there were several standing ovations - showed that the Notre Dame graduating class of 2009 felt proud to have the president as their speaker.

The Rev. John Jenkins, Notre Dame's president, introduced Obama and praised the president for being able to reach out to people who disagree with hm.

The president, he said, is not "someone who stops talking to those who disagree with him."

Fr Jenkins also said there has been too little attention on the fact that Obama was speaking at an institution that opposes his abortion policy.

Obama said that those on each side of the debate "can still agree that this is a heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both moral and spiritual dimensions.

"So let's 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."

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