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March for Life: Trump to be first president to attend anti-abortion rally

‘Since day one, the Trump-Pence administration has sought to undermine our access to health care, including safe, legal abortion,’ says Planned Parenthood Action

Kate Ng
Thursday 23 January 2020 10:37 GMT
Planned Parenthood wins $2m lawsuit against anti-abortion group behind fake videos and 'malicious campaign'

Donald Trump will be the first president to attend the annual anti-abortion rally March for Life, the White House has confirmed.

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

She called Mr Trump and his administration “consistent champions for life” and praised their “unwavering support” for the rally, which will be held in Washington DC.

After returning to the White House from Switzerland, where he attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr Trump tweeted: “See you on Friday … Big Crowd!”

He announced his attendance on 22 January, the 47th anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision to protect pregnant women’s choice to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.

And one day before the Roe v. Wade anniversary, Mr Trump declared 21 January National Sanctity of Human Life Day to “strongly reaffirm our commitment to protect the precious gift of life at every stage, from conception to natural death”.

In 2018, Mr Trump was also the first president to speak at the march via a video feed, and in 2017 became the first sitting president to attend the Value Voters Summit, organised by the Family Research Council, which opposes abortion and homosexuality.

From appointing anti-abortion judges to giving millions of dollars to prominent anti-abortion groups, Mr Trump has been dubbed ‘the most pro-life President in history’ by social conservatives.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, said in a tweet: “President Trump has governed as the most pro-life president in history. His presence at the world’s largest pro-life event signals a truly watershed moment for the Pro-Life Movement.”

The rally comes just weeks before the US Supreme Court hears its first major abortion case since the addition of two justices — Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — who were appointed by Mr Trump.

Abortion and women’s rights activists have called Mr Trump’s attendance at the rally a strategy to distract attention away from his impeachment trial, which started on 16 January.

Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said: “In a desperate attempt to divert attention from his criminal presidency and fire up his radical base, Trump will be the first POTUS to attend the annual gathering of anti-choicers on Friday, which he announced today on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade because that’s how he rolls.”

Planned Parenthood Action, the political arm of the family planning non-profit organisation Planned Parenthood, said: “Since day one, the Trump-Pence administration has sought to undermine our access to health care, including safe, legal abortion.

“But 77 per cent of us who support that access will have our say in November. Let’s make sure that next year, he’s there [at the march] as a private citizen.”

Amelia Bonow, co-founder of abortion rights group Shout Your Abortion, told the Independent: "Trump's appearance at the March for Life is not surprising - his election hinged promising wealthy, evangelical donors the end of abortion rights. But a quarter of American women have abortions, a new study says that 99 percent of them don't regret their decision and 77 percent of Americans support Roe v. Wade.

"Even the majority of Republicans support Roe v. Wade. Whatever progress this administration makes in eliminating abortion access will be wildly unpopular and Americans of every poltical stripe will continue having abortions, legal or not."

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