At anti-abortion rally, Trump assails Democrats, draws applause
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[January 25, 2020]
By Katanga Johnson and Diane Bartz
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Donald Trump became
the first U.S. president to attend the annual March for Life in
Washington on Friday, unleashing a fierce attack on his Democratic
rivals during a rally in an election-year show of support for opponents
of abortion rights.
"Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House,"
the Republican president told thousands of cheering people at the rally,
touting his anti-abortion policies and his appointments of conservatives
to the federal judiciary including Supreme Court Justices Brett
Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.
Demonstrators from around the country converged on a cool, overcast day
in the U.S. capital for the event held annually around the anniversary
of the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that
recognized a woman's constitutional right to an abortion and legalized
the procedure nationwide. Many high school and college students joined
in the rally.
Trump, seeking re-election on Nov. 3, addressed the event in the midst
of his impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate on charges passed by the
Democratic-led House of Representatives. While not mentioning
impeachment, he assailed congressional Democrats on abortion policy.
Trump drew loud applause from the crowd.
Among his most loyal political supporters are evangelical Christians,
who strongly oppose abortion rights. The event took on aspects of a
campaign rally, with Trump lashing out at his political opponents and
some in the crowd chanting "Four More Years!"
"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. "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."
"Democrats have embraced the most radical and extreme positions taken
and seen in this country for years and decades and you could even say
for centuries. Nearly every top Democrat in Congress now supports
taxpayer-funded abortion all the way up until the moment of birth,"
Trump said, eliciting boos and jeers from the crowd.
Trump, who years earlier had supported abortion rights, cast himself as
a committed abortion opponent on religious grounds.
"We know that every human soul is divine and ever human life, born and
unborn, is made in the holy image of almighty God," Trump said.
Trump vowed during the 2016 presidential campaign to appoint justices
who would overturn Roe v. Wade.
Abortion remains one of the most divisive issues in the United States.
About 58% of U.S. adults say abortion should be legal in most or all
cases, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll last year.
Past U.S. presidents have opted to stay away from the march, though
Republicans Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush both previously delivered
remarks to the rally remotely.
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Anti-abortion activists march with banner thanking U.S. President
Donald Trump for his support during the 47th annual March for Life
in Washington, U.S., January 24, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
The Supreme Court on March 4 will hear arguments in a major case
concerning the legality of abortion clinic regulations in Louisiana
that could lead to new curbs on access to the procedure. The case
will test the willingness of the court, which has a 5-4 conservative
majority that includes Trump's two appointees, to uphold
Republican-backed abortion restrictions being pursued in numerous
Some at the rally held signs with slogans including "Baby
Holocaust," "Most Pro-Life President Ever," "Stop Killing Babies"
and "I Am The Pro-Life Generation." Many were from religious groups
and conservative nonprofit organizations.
Among them was Anne Fitzgerald, 44, who said that at age 21 she gave
up her daughter for adoption so she could finish college. She now
runs Days of Tears, a Virginia nonprofit that advocates against
abortion, and said she was marching to help women recognize "that in
the moment of a decision between raising or aborting a child,
adoption is a viable option."
Fitzgerald said she was at first skeptical of Trump's stance on
abortion, but is proud he turned out to be "strong ally".
Outside the Supreme Court, anti-abortion demonstrators in the march
were met by abortion rights activists, some of whom held signs
saying "Keep abortion safe and legal" and "Safe abortion is a human
right." There were also some activists backing Trump's removal from
Emily Goodman, 33, who stood with several fellow supporters of
abortion rights during the march, said the event "reeks of a form of
"What the pro-life advocates seem to be focused on is bussing in
young people with signs to declare that their side of the argument
is right and no other opinion matters," said Goodman, who volunteers
for a Washington-based nonprofit organization. "I wish there was a
conversation today, involving two sides, focused on a woman's
ability to both hold her view on abortion yet not impose that view
Trump delivered remarks by video at the 2019 march. Vice President
Mike Pence attended the event in person last year.
(Reporting by Katanga Johnson, Diane Bartz, Lawrence Hurley and Jeff
Mason in Washington, and Gabriella Borter in New York; Writing by
Gabriella Borter and Daniel Wallis; Editing by Will Dunham)
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