By Ken BlackwellFellow, Family Research Council/Former Vice President, Xavier University

Many are questioning why officials at the University of Notre Dame are inviting the most pro-abortion president in our history to receive an honorary doctorate of laws. Doesn't this make a mockery of Notre Dame's historic role as the premier Catholic university in America? Doesn't this create a scandal for the Catholic faithful as well as for the larger community of Americans who are not Catholic? Much of the fierce public debate has centered on why Notre Dame would extend such an honor. The divisions exposed by this invitation are deep and worrisome.

What we need to ask is why the president is going to Notre Dame. There has been too little discussion of that side of the issue. Fr. James Schall is a highly respected professor at Georgetown University, an institution "in the Jesuit tradition." He offers this deeply insightful judgment on aCatholic Web site.

So when President Obama goes to Notre Dame this week, we should be sure what is at issue. He goes there for one reason, namely, in this symbolic place, to convince the vast majority of Catholics that his operative definition of "human rights," not that of the Church, is the correct one.

"Rights" mean precisely what the government defines them to mean. The president is the government.

When we define human rights in these terms, we should be clear what we are doing. They are no longer inalienable rights. They become through intellectual sophistry alienable by government edict.

Kathleen Sebelius, the newly confirmed Secretary of HHS, has said as much. Inalienable rights do not apply in utero, this self-described Catholic public official says. If a compliant Congress agrees, Sebelius will soon be in charge of the health care of three hundred million Americans. These are Americans whose right to life can be taken away through the government's decisions to fund or not fund certain life-sustaining medical care.

Recall the presidential debates of last spring. Then-Sen. Barack Obama said he did have one regret about his legislative career. He said, ominously, that he should have objected when the Senate voted by unanimous consent to allow the Terri Schaivo case to be heard by federal courts. Obama said, on consideration, he should have objected. In that, he would have been more willing than ninety and nine of his senatorial colleagues to speed Terri's death. For that would have been the inevitable result of his actions.

Now, consider that our president wants the government to run all health care in America. He and his minions do not recognize a human right to life. He thinks that when you have had enough health care, that care should be denied to you. And you should not have access to the federal courts. Welcome to the brave new world of government-defined human rights.

I see another reason why President Obama is going to Notre Dame. He knows the truth of the maxim: divide and conquer. He has already succeeded in dividing the Evangelical community in America. Although most Evangelical Protestants, both black and white, are pro-life and pro-marriage, President Obama has been able to convince millions that he wants to limit abortions and uphold marriage as the union of one man and one woman. He has accomplished this feat while vigorously promoting pro-abortion and anti-marriage policies and personnel.

Similarly, the president is now seeking, with great success, to divide the Catholic community. We actually see noted Catholic intellectuals, even law professors, publicly hailing him as a way to get past the "toxic debate" on human life.

Obama will reduce abortions, these same folks assure us, by making them free, by repealing all the protective laws that have brought down the deadly toll, by exporting abortion around the world, by filling his administration with abortion-activists, by slashing funding for abstinence education, by unleashing a torrent of money for the abortion traffickers, and by stripping Christian doctors and nurses of their conscience rights not to take part in abortion. George Orwell knew something about such intellectuals in politics. "The man must be an intellectual," this socialist author of "1984" wrote, "no one else could be such a fool."

Remember the great outcry that was heard when Barack Obama asked the pro-life Evangelical pastor, Rick Warren, to pray at his inauguration? Lost in that maelstrom of public controversy was this notable fact: Rick Warren was the only pro-life person to have any role whatsoever in this administration. And Rev. Warren's role was over by 1 pm on Inauguration Day. We can, we should, pray for our president. But do not be deceived: the culture of death has never had so seductive, so attractive, or so successful as an avatar.

Ken Blackwell is a former vice president of Xavier University in Cincinnati, a Jesuit institution. He is presently a fellow at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.