When pro-life Vice President Mike Pence spoke to graduates at the University of Notre Dame on Sunday, a group of them walked out in protest.
About 100 students and parents walked out of the commencement ceremony as part of a planned protest, NPR reports. A few people also booed as the vice president began his address at the Catholic university in South Bend, Indiana, according to the report.
Pence, a former governor of Indiana, has a strong pro-life record. As governor, he signed a state law to protect unborn babies with disabilities from being aborted. He also spoke about overturning Roe v. Wade while on the campaign trail with President Donald Trump. And in January, Pence became the first sitting vice president to speak at the March for Life in Washington, D.C.
Though the Notre Dame protesters did not specifically mention abortion, they said they were angry at Pence for “marginaliz[ing] our vulnerable sisters and brothers for their religion, skin color or sexual orientation.”
In a statement, they said Pence targeted “the civil rights protections of members of LBGT+ community, … rejected the Syrian refugee resettlement program, supported an unconstitutional ban of religious minorities, and fought against sanctuary cities.”
Fox News reports Pence did not acknowledge the protesters during his speech, but he did talk about free speech and human rights.
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“This university (Notre Dame) is a vanguard of the freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas at a time, sadly, when free speech and civility are waning on campuses across America,” Pence said.
He also praised those at the Catholic university who fight to uphold the dignity of every human life.
“Notre Dame is exceptional,” Pence said. “This university stands without apology for human freedom and the inherent dignity of every human person, and it holds fast to the faith that gave it birth.”
Pence brought up the legal challenges involving Obamacare and the HHS mandate that forced religious groups like Notre Dame and the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide birth control, including types that may cause abortions, to their employees.
“Just as Notre Dame has stood strong to protect its religious liberty, I’m proud that this president just took steps to ensure that this university and the Little Sisters of the Poor could not be forced to violate their consciences to fully participate in American civic life,” Pence said.
In 2009, pro-life students and others protested when Notre Dame invited pro-abortion President Barack Obama to speak at commencement.