President Donald Trump told participants at the 47th March for Life Jan. 24 he was “truly proud to stand” with them as the first chief executive of the United States to speak in person at the annual event.
Speaking to tens of thousands of pro-lifers, Trump said, “It is my profound honor to be the first president in history to attend the March for Life. We’re here for a very simple reason – to defend the right of every child born and unborn to fulfill their God-given potential.”
The president came to the pre-march rally with a strong pro-life record in the first three years of his administration as the U.S. Senate entered the fourth day of his impeachment trial. Trump’s administration has issued and promoted numerous policies designed to protect unborn children, reduce funds for abortion providers and protect the conscience rights of pro-life healthcare workers.
He told the audience gathered on the National Mall, “All of us here today understand an eternal truth – every child is a precious and sacred gift from God. Together, we must protect, cherish and defend the dignity and sanctity of every human life. When we see the image of the baby in the womb, we glimpse the majesty of God’s creation.
“Every person is worth protecting…. [E]very human life, born and unborn, is made in the holy image of almighty God,” Trump said. “Together, we are the voice for the voiceless.”
The president told the marchers, “Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House” and offered a litany of pro-life actions taken by his administration.
Other Republican presidents have spoken to the March for Life rally by audio or video, but Trump’s appearance marked a historic first. He spoke to the gathering last year by video. In 2017, Mike Pence became the first vice president to speak in person at the march.
The March for Life has been held every year since its beginning in 1974, one year after the Supreme Court legalized abortion throughout the country in the Roe v. Wade decision Jan. 22, 1973.
On the eve of the march, Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore commended Trump’s appearance.
“I think it’s great for President Trump to come to the March for Life,” said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). “I think it would be great for any president of the United States to come to the March for Life and to give greetings – so long as it’s very clear we are hearing from somebody and speaking to somebody. That doesn’t mean that the entire movement hangs or falls on this one personality, whatever you think of the personality.”
Moore spoke at the ERLC’s annual Evangelicals for Life event Jan. 23 at the Museum of the Bible and participated with other ERLC staff members in the march.
The Trump administration announced other pro-life actions during the week of the March for Life:
- Trump declared Jan. 22 as National Sanctity of Human Life Day in a presidential proclamation.
- The Department of Health and Human Services said Jan. 24 it had notified the state of California it was guilty of violating federal conscience protections by imposing abortion coverage mandates on health insurance plans and issuers.
Trump’s re-election campaign announced the day of the march a 33-member advisory board Pro-life Voices for Trump. Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, and Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, are co-chairs of the board.
One of the other speakers, pro-life Democrat Katrina Jackson of the Louisiana Senate, told participants, “[T]he fight for life doesn’t have a partisan stance to it…. We must fight like we’ve never fought before.”
David Platt, pastor of McLean Bible Church in Vienna, Va., and former International Mission Board president, called out in the closing prayer, “Before we march, we pause today to plead for an end to laws in our country that make it legal to murder a child. We plead for your mercy. Oh God, we confess that under the guise of protecting women, we have destroyed women…. We confess that we have dressed up abortion in all kinds of language about our rights and our privacy and our plans for our lives, but in the end a million children over the last year are dead, and we did it.
“God have mercy. God have mercy on children. God have mercy on moms. God have mercy on dads. God have mercy on us. Please open the eyes of every person in our country to see the beauty and the wonder of what you are doing in pregnancy.”
Pence and his wife Karen addressed the rally by video from Rome following a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
After the rally, the crowd marched on Constitution Avenue past the U.S. Capitol to the Supreme Court building.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.)