‘Every Child Is a Precious Gift From God,’ Says President Trump in March for Life Address
On Friday, President Donald Trump addressed the 45th annual March for Life via video simulcast from the White House Rose Garden.
“The March for Life is a movement born out of love,” said Trump. “Every child is a precious gift from God. This movement will only succeed with the heart, soul and prayers of the people.” The administration concurrently released a fact sheet noting their track record in reducing abortions.
An estimated 100,000 people gathered on the National Mall to hear from speakers and musicians. Groups of high school students waved pro-life signs. Parents held children’s hands as the crowd grew. Reflecting trends in the national religious landscape, the majority-white crowd also included many black and Latino pro-life advocates.
The March for Life marks the somber anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Pro-life leaders contend the case was based on faulty legal reasoning. The decision legalized abortion in all U.S. states and territories. While abortion rates are in decline, nearly one million abortions are performed annually in the U.S.
President Trump followed previous presidents Reagan and Bush, who addressed the annual pro-life gathering via telephone. In his introduction, Vice President Mike Pence called Trump “the most pro-life president in American history.” His remarks referenced this year’s March for Life theme, Love Saves Lives.
“Life is winning in America because love saves lives,” said Pence. “We seek to restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law.”
People of Faith Lead Pro-Life March
In his remarks, President Trump cited a Marist Poll released days ago, commissioned by the Knights of Columbus. “Only 12 percent of Americans support abortion at any time,” he noted
President Trump listed five examples of pro-life policies that “build a society where life is celebrated, protected and cherished.” These included signing the Mexico City Policy, supporting the Pain Capable bill and signing an executive order on religious liberty.
He also touted his administration’s Thursday announcement of a new division opening up within the Department of Health and Human Services. The new HHS division will “protect the fundamental and unalienable rights of conscience and religious freedom.” The department followed up Friday with new proposed rules to enforce existing conscience protections.
Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, recognized some tensions exist among pro-life advocates regarding the Trump Administration.
Catholics and Protestants Uniting for Life
“We invited the president to speak because of his pro-life stance,” she said in an interview. “As an organization that’s focused primarily on protecting the unborn, it’s been incredible to have the leader of the free world supportive of these issues.”
The weather was notably warmer than many previous March for Life events. “At least we picked a beautiful day,” observed President Trump. “You can’t get a more beautiful day.”
With signs touting particular dioceses, a large majority of the crowd appeared to originate from Catholic parishes across the East Coast. Catholics mark “Respect Life Month” every October. The program through local dioceses includes promoting attendance at the March for Life.
Protestants have had a growing presence at the march in recent years. Hundreds gathered at the Evangelicals for Life conference at a D.C.-area hotel, co-sponsored by Focus on the Family and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. On Thursday night, Ryan Bomberger, Abby Johnson and Catherine Davis were among the prayer leaders at the ecumenical, evangelical-led OneVoiceDC prayer event.
House Vote Shows Legislative Progress
“Can we just thank God for giving us a pro-life president back in the White House?” said Speaker Paul Ryan. His remarks immediately followed President Trump’s speech.
He noted a House vote just before the rally. “Just a few minutes ago, today, we passed the Born Alive Survivors Protection Act,” said Ryan. “It protects the life of those babies who suffer from failed abortions.” The bill passed 241-183, with six Democrats crossing party lines to support it.
Autumn Christensen, policy director at Susan B. Anthony List, has been lobbying for this bill for months. “We think this is a common sense policy,” she says. “If a baby survives an abortion, it says the abortionist has to provide medical care.”
“It upholds the same standard provided to any child—such as transport to a hospital,” says Christensen. “We hope it is something we can get past the Senate filibuster and be able to reach the President’s desk.”
Many pro-life advocates are carefully watching bills moving through Congress. A host of abortion-related policies are awaiting votes. “We strive to make our time in Congress a March for Life in itself,” continued Speaker Ryan. “We believe every person is worthy of love and dignity.”
Drama at the Supreme Court
“President Trump made four promises on the campaign trail to pro-lifers,” says Mancini. “He’s kept one of them. Three of them are really the burden of the Senate.”
She cited a 2016 letter issued by the Trump-Pence campaign. “The one that he has been faithful to this year was appointing Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch,” she says. Following the rally, tens of thousands of people marched up Pennsylvania Avenue.
The march ended at the Supreme Court, where a small group of pro-choice activists waved signs. They were overwhelmed by several pro-life groups, many who chanted We are the pro-life generation. Others prayed silently, in solidarity with the voices silenced by abortion.
“Maybe he’ll have the opportunity to appoint more Supreme Court Justices in the coming years,” concluded Mancini.