Donald Trump became the first sitting president to address the March for Life on camera Friday, hailing the pro-life activists for their love and concern for the unborn and their mothers and announcing new pro-life policies impacting conscience protections for the medical community and flexibility for how states spend Medicaid dollars.
On a sunny Friday that was considerably warmer than most recent days in the nation’s capital, tens of thousands of pro-life demonstrators descended on the National Mall to hear speeches from President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, lawmakers, and other activists before marching to the U.S. Supreme Court to denounce the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions handed down 45 years ago this month by the nation’s highest court.
Those decisions legalized abortion across America, giving women protection under the law to terminate their unborn children for any reason at virtually any point in their pregnancies.
The March for Life began soon after, but for the first 44 years no president addressed the crowd in person.
That changed on Friday.
“Today I’m honored and really proud to be the first president to stand with you here at the White House to address the 45th March for Life,” said Trump.
Trump spoke from the Rose Garden at the White House. Video was then transmitted to giant screens on the National Mall. Previous pro-life presidents spoke to the march through phone calls.
Vice President Pence introduced Trump as the most pro-life president in U.S. history. Trump says protecting life is a major priority of his administration.
“Under my administration, we will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independence and that is the right to life,” said Trump.
Trump then listed multiple policy moves and priorities, starting with an order he issued Friday for the medical community.
“We have just issued a new proposal to protect conscience rights and religious freedoms of doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals,” said Trump.
He also announced an end to an Obama administration directive on how states can spend Medicaid dollars.
“I have also just reversed the previous administration’s policy that restricted states’ efforts to direct Medicaid funding away from abortion facilities that violate the law,” said Trump.
States may now have the flexibility to refuse sending taxpayer dollars to the likes of Planned Parenthood. In 2016, the Obama administration warned states that refusing abortion providers that money may be a violation of federal law.
Trump also urged the Senate to follow the lead of the House and approve a federal ban on most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The legislation is known as the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
“I strongly supported the House of Representatives’ pain-capable bill, which would end painful late-term abortions nationwide. And I call upon the Senate to pass this important law and send it to my desk for signing,” said Trump.
Earlier on Friday, the House passed the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. The bill calls for criminal penalties for doctors who fail to treat and care for infants who survive attempted abortions and fully emerge from their mothers.
Penalties include criminal fines and up to five years in prison. Current law requires physicians to care for such babies but does not detail penalties for those who refuse.
The bill passed the House 241-183. All but six Democrats opposed it. All Republicans supported it, however, Democrats are planning to kill the legislation in the Senate.
During his speech, Trump railed against America’s standing as being among the nations with the most radical abortion laws.
“As you all know, Roe v. Wade has resulted in some of the most permissive abortion laws anywhere in the world. For example, in the United States, it’s one of only seven countries to allow elective late-term abortions, along with China, North Korea, and others,” said Trump.
“Right now, in a number of states, the laws allow a baby to be [torn] from his or her mother’s womb in the ninth month. It is wrong. It has to change,” said Trump.
Trump acknowledged the marchers and praised them for keeping the pressure on government for 45 years and counting since Roe v. Wade.
“Today, tens of thousands of families, students, and patriots and really great citizens gather here in our nation’s capital. You come from many backgrounds, many places, but you all come for one beautiful cause: to build a society where life is celebrated, protected, and cherished,” said Trump.
“The March for Life is a movement borne out of love. You love your families, you love your neighbors, you love our nation, and you love every child -born and unborn – because you believe that every life is sacred and that every child is a precious gift from God,” said Trump.
In addition to applauding those who fight to save unborn lives, Trump also praised those who care after women in crisis pregnancies.
“I want to thank every person here today and everyone across our country who works with such big hearts and tireless devotion to make sure that parents have the care and support they need to choose life,” said Trump.
Trump singled out Mariana Donadio of Greensboro, North Carolina. Donadio found herself in a crisis pregnancy when she was 17 years old chose to have her baby with the support of her parents. Now the mother of six, Donadio run Room at the Inn, a facility caring for other women facing unplanned and uncertain pregancies.
“Over the last 15 years, Room at the Inn has provided housing, child care, counseling, education, and job training to more than 400 women.
“Even more importantly, it has given them hope. It shows each woman that she is not forgotten, that she is not alone, and that she now has a whole family of people who will help her succeed.
“That hope is the true gift of this incredible movement that brings us together today. It is the gift of friendship, the gift of mentorship, and the gift of encouragement, love, and support,” said Trump.
He says that spirit is the key to ultimately winning the battle for the right to life in the United States.
“We are protecting the sanctity of life and the family as the foundation of our society. But this movement can only succeed with the heart and the soul and the prayer of the people,” said Trump.