- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 17, 2009

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — At least five people were led away in handcuffs Sunday outside the University of Notre Dame’s front gate Sunday amid anti-abortion protests leading up to President Barack Obama’s commencement address.

Those arrested included Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff identified as “Roe” in the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. She now opposes abortion and joined more than 300 anti-abortion demonstrators at the school’s front gate.

More than half held signs, some declaring “Shame on Notre Dame” and “Stop Abortion Now” to express their anger over Notre Dame’s invitation to Obama, who supports abortion rights and embryonic stem-cell research.

Members of an abortion rights group were protesting nearby on the campus while a plane pulling an anti-abortion banner circled campus.

Tara Makowski of Seattle, who received a master’s degree Saturday from Notre Dame, said she was dismayed by the way her alma mater was being characterized.

“Seeing us being portrayed nationally as radical conservative has been really tough,” she said. “People need to realize that the majority of students and faculty are for this.”

Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry told abortion protesters that members of his group would be inside the Joyce Center for the president’s speech and planned a peaceful protest.

On campus, more than 200 people prayed Sunday morning at a packed Alumni Hall Chapel.

Later, hundreds of students filled the campus’ South Quad for an open-air Mass and rally during which the Rev. Kevin Russeau praised the students for responding to the controversy over Obama’s invitation with prayer.

“I can’t tell you the number of Rosaries and Masses and prayer meetings that have been intentional responses to what many feel is a concession to the culture of death,” he told the worshippers.

The event was organized by ND Response, a coalition of student groups opposed to the school’s decision to give Obama an honorary degree.

Bishop John D’Arcy, whose diocese includes Notre Dame, attended the rally on the South Quad. He has said he would not attend the commencement because of the Obama invitation but was on campus to support the students. He also attended a prayer vigil Saturday night.

“It’s certainly the place for the bishop to be here. There’s no doubt about that,” D’Arcy told the crowd Sunday. “All of you are heroes, and I’m proud to stand with you.”

Russeau, a priest at the school, said the worshippers were giving voice to society’s most vulnerable members.

“May God bless us this day and bless all who work for the culture of life,” he said.

Many attending the Mass held anti-abortion signs, and some wore T-shirts showing a leprechaun dressed in green throwing a baby into a trash can.

The shirts’ back side read, “May 17, 2009, The day the dome was tarnished forever” and showed a drawing of the school’s famed golden dome covered in blood.

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