About 15 anti-abortion activists were arrested Friday at Notre Dame, Fox News reported. They included Alan Keyes, the right-wing pundit who ran against Obama for the Senate in 2004 in Illinois and has become a perennial candidate for president.
Obama's pro-choice position on abortion and his reversal of the Bush administration ban on stem cell research has angered some Catholics.
Robert Gibbs, Obama's press secretary, told reporters at the daily briefing that the president, who has taught university courses, understands the "give and take" of campus debate.
"I think you'll hear him address it, but I think you'll also have a president and commencement speaker that's quite cognizant of the fact that this is a commencement ceremony," Gibbs said. "This is a special occasion for families to celebrate the conferring of degrees in this ceremony and that the president will understand that's the most important aspect of the day."
Protests at the university in South Bend, Ind., have become routine with Keyes being arrested a few days ago. Notre Dame policy is that only student demonstrations are allowed on campus.