During the course of the Catholic press interview of President Obama, Paul Baumann of Commonweal magazine asked the president about the forthcoming report on efforts to seek common ground on abortion.

“What are your realistic hopes for this group?” asked Baumann.

The president responded that the group has met, received a range of perspectives, gathered comments, and will deliver a memo to the president sometime soon.

“I’ve never been under the illusion that there are going to be ... that we were going to simply talk all our differences away on these issues,” said the president. “Again, I acknowledged this in the Notre Dame speech. I think there’s a irreducible difference, conflict, on the abortion issue, that the best we can do is suggest that people of goodwill can be on either side, but you can’t wish those differences away.”

“I can tell you, though, that on the idea of helping young people make smart choices so that they are not engaging in casual sexual activity that can lead to unwanted pregnancies, on the importance of adoption as a option, an alternative to abortion, on caring for pregnant women so that it is easier for them to support children, those are immediately three areas where I would be surprised if we don’t have some pretty significant areas of agreement,” he added.

“You identified the areas where things may be more difficult. I personally think that combining good sexual and — or good sex and moral education needs to be combined with contraception in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies,” said the president. “I recognize that contradicts Catholic Church doctrine, so I would not expect someone who feels very strongly about this issue as a matter of religious faith to be able to agree with me on that, but that’s my personal view. We may not be able to arrive at perfectly compatible language on that front.”

“I would be surprised if those who believe abortion should be legal would object to language that says we should try to reduce the circumstances in which women feel compelled to obtain an abortion. If they took that position, I would disagree with them. I don’t know any circumstances in which abortion is a happy circumstance or decision, and to the extent that we can help women avoid being confronted with a circumstance in which that’s even a consideration, I think that’s a good thing.”