On Friday, President Trump stood before a crowd of an estimated 100,000 people and became the first U.S. president to address the 47th annual March of Life in Washington D.C., invoking ‘God’ eight times in his speech.
His address was emphatically faith-based as he said opened his speech by declaring that he and all those attending the March were there “for a very simple reason: to defend the right of every child, born and unborn, to fulfill their God-given potential.”
“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 a baby in the womb, we glimpse the majesty of God’s creation. When we hold a newborn in our arms, we know the endless love that each child brings to a family. When we watch a child grow, we see the splendor that radiates from each human soul. One life changes the world. From my family — and I can tell you, I send love and I send great love.”
“Every life brings love into this world,” he added later in his speech. “Every child brings joy to a family. Every person is worth protecting. (Applause.) And above all, we know that every human soul is divine, and every human life –- born and unborn –- is made in the holy image of Almighty God.”
The address marks a personal turning point for the president as he used to support abortion in his pre-presidential days. Speaking in his signature hyperbole, he declared, “Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House.”
Indeed, Trump has put his presidential seal on this personal transition, signing a bill that would allow states to deny funding to Planned Parenthood. Known as the Mexico City Policy, Trump reminded the crowd that he reinstated and expanded the policy in his first week in office.
“I notified Congress that I would veto any legislation that weakens pro-life policies or that encourages the destruction of human life. At the United Nations, I made clear that global bureaucrats have no business attacking the sovereignty of nations that protect innocent life.”
With the presidential elections less than one year away, Trump reminded the rally that abortion was an issue divided by a religious and political chasm.
“Sadly, the far left is actively working to erase our God-given rights, shut down faith-based charities, ban religious believers from the public square, and silence Americans who believe in the sanctity of life,” Trump said to wild applause. “They are coming after me because I am fighting for you and we are fighting for those who have no voice. And we will win because we know how to win.”
He invoked God in his closing comments as well.
“This is a very special moment. It’s so great to represent you. I love you all and I say with true passion: Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America. Thank you all.”
Trump has also confirmed 187 federal judges and appointed two supreme court justices. In 2018, he was the first sitting president to address the Campaign for Life event, sponsored by the Susan B Anthony List pro-life political action group.
The presidential participation in the pro-life rally also marks what many believe is a change in the abortion battleground, with the left transitioning from the popular liberal battle-cry of “safe, legal and rare”, a position formerly held by Hillary Clinton in former years, to her revised 2016 presidential campaign platform of on-demand and late-term abortions. In 2016, the Democratic party for the first time included in its platform a call to repeal the Hyde Amendment, a decades-old law that prohibits using taxpayer money for abortions. It should be noted that with the exception of Tulsi Gabbard, no Democrat running for the party nomination in 2020 has expressed support for restrictions on late-term abortions.
It seems that Trump’s involvement is having an impact. Last year, 17 states enacted some form of abortion restriction, according to the Guttmacher Institute
The annual March of Life began in 1974 on the first anniversary of the controversial Supreme Court Case of Roe v. Wade which is cited as protecting a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction. Based on questionable jurisprudence that is still debated today, the decision infringed upon the rights of the states to set their own legislation as well as the humanitarian rights of the unborn.
Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush addressed marchers remotely and Mike Pence became the first sitting vice-president to attend the rally in 2017.