Trump to Become First US President to Speak in Person at March for Life

Increasingly, the March for Life has drawn a younger and more diverse crowd — including a few advocates who affiliate with the Democratic Party.

On January 29, 2017, hundreds of thousands of pro-life advocates participated in the March for Life on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

By Josh Shepherd Published on January 22, 2020

Election-year politics will play into this year’s March for Life, billed as the largest annual protest on behalf of human rights.

On Wednesday, leadership of the march announced that President Donald Trump will speak live at their 47th annual peaceful protest on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

“He will be the first president in history to attend,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, in a statement. “We are so excited for him to experience in person how passionate our marchers are about life and protecting the unborn.”

Reagan spoke to marchers via phone in 1987, as did George W. Bush in 2008. Trump offered remarks live via satellite video in 2018, and a video greeting in 2019.

The pro-life march is held annually in protest of the Roe v. Wade decision issued by the U.S. Supreme Court on January 22, 1973. That ruling toppled pro-life laws in 46 states and legalized abortion nationwide at all stages of pregnancy.

Since 1973, more than 61 million abortions have occurred in the U.S.

Pro-Life Liberals to Share Stage With President Trump

Last January, an estimated 250,000 people participated in the March for Life. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen revved up the crowd in a speech that echoed the American Founders.

“We are, all of us, born and unborn, endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights,” said Pence. “First among these rights is the right to life.”

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Increasingly, the March for Life has drawn a younger and more diverse crowd — including a few advocates who affiliate with the Democratic Party.

On Friday, two Democratic leaders will join President Trump on the main stage.

State Senator Katrina Jackson (D-La.)

Louisiana State Senator Katrina Jackson, author of a state pro-life law currently being challenged at the Supreme Court, is slated to give remarks.

In addition, Donna Hutto Edwards, the First Lady of Louisiana, will share her story.

She and her husband, Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards, chose life for their daughter diagnosed with spina bifida in the womb. Doctors had advised them to abort.

Terrisa Bukovinac, founder of Pro-Life San Francisco, has this year protested the lack of pro-life representation outside several major Democratic debates.

The liberal leader expressed her support of the President’s appearance, despite their differences.

“Although Trump and I don’t agree on much, we do agree that the horror of abortion is the most pressing human rights issue in America today,” stated Bukovinac via e-mail.

“Trump’s willingness to draw the media to this historic event is an important move, regardless of our profound disagreement.”

Public Opinion Trending Towards Life

New polls released this week indicate the pro-life movement is winning over more hearts and minds.

In a new Marist Poll released Wednesday, 70 percent of Americans stated they believe abortion should be restricted to the first three months of pregnancy. In addition, 80 percent think that U.S. laws can protect both women and the life of the pre-born.

“If you ask about abortion limitations, people’s policy preferences are not reflective of the law of our land,” said Mancini. “This shows public opinion is definitely shifting in the direction of life.”

Barbara Carvalho

The January survey of 1,237 adults was balanced to reflect an accurate, statistically significant sample of the entire U.S. population.

However, one aspect presents a disconnect. Only 40 percent of respondents self-identify as “pro-life” versus 55 percent who state a “pro-choice” affiliation.

“When we look at the debate we have on abortion publicly, and a lot of the polling done on the issue, people are forced into one side or the other,” said Barbara Carvalho, director of The Marist Poll. “It’s framed as either pro-life or pro-choice, which is [very] vague.”

For the past 12 years, the Knights of Columbus-sponsored research has revealed Americans’ stances on abortion policies have more nuances than most polls show.

“We have actually presented people that we’re speaking with very specific questions about the issue,” explained Carvalho. “What we’re able to do is determine what they mean when they say ‘pro-choice.’

“For most Americans, being ‘pro-choice’ means at most allowing abortion within the first three months.”

United on Values, Divided on Party

The pro-life movement has grappled in recent years with how closely to align with the Trump administration. Even some conservatives have questioned claims of Trump being “the most pro-life president in history.”

“We are so excited for [President Trump] to experience in person how passionate our marchers are about life and protecting the unborn.” – Jeanne Mancini

Kristen Day, president of Democrats for Life of America, addressed these tensions in 2018. “We all want to support women and end abortion,” said Day. “We’ll do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. Some may not be a huge fan of Trump, but we’re moving the football forward.”

For Mancini, the record is clear. “President Trump and his Administration have been consistent champions for life and their support for the March for Life has been unwavering,” she stated.

Specifically, the March for Life leader cited his appointment of “pro-life judges,” curtailing the use of taxpayer funding for abortions, and his call for an end to late-term abortions.

“It would be fantastic to juxtapose Trump with a prominent national pro-life Democrat,” said liberal pro-life leader Bukovinac. “But until the 72 percent of Democrats who want abortion restricted stop voting for pro-choice extremists, we will continue to have to rely on right-wing leadership to draw attention to the March for Life.”

With national media covering this year’s march, this one could prove to be the most-scrutinized in its 47-year history. During an election year, it serves to elevate issues of human dignity that millions are devoted to.

“We are grateful for all these pro-life accomplishments and look forward to gaining more victories for life in the future,” said Mancini.

 

A graduate of the University of Colorado, Josh M. Shepherd covers culture, faith, and public policy issues for media outlets including The Stream and The Federalist.

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