- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 21, 2018

President Trump may be an unlikely pro-life champion, but activists at the March for Life say he’s given them hope that legal abortion will one day be a thing of the past.

The 45th president became the first sitting one to address the world’s largest annual human-rights demonstration. In a live satellite feed Friday from the Rose Garden, Mr. Trump said “hope is the true gift of this incredible movement that brings us together today.”

“That is why we march,” the president said. “That is why we pray, and that is why we declare that America’s future will be filled with goodness, peace, joy, dignity and life for every child of God.”

That hope was on display just down the street, as tens of thousands of marchers gathered on the National Mall to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that created a constitutional right to abortion.

The sun shone brightly as marchers, dressed in colorful scarves and hats, packed in tightly on the patch of grass next to the red-bricked Smithsonian castle.

Many carried posters depicting the Virgin Mary and Mother Teresa. Various signs read: “Abortion is not the cure for Down syndrome,” “Fewer women would have abortions if wombs had windows,” “Babies can feel joy while in the womb” and “As a former fetus I oppose abortion.”

A group of more than 200 Benedictine College students made the trip from Atchison, Kansas, — including members of the school’s marching band, who formed a drum line and waved tall red flags.

When asked what it means to have the sitting president address the March for Life, Uday Patel said: “Hope.”

“That sooner or later, the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade,” said Uday, 15, who traveled from Washington with his family to attend the march.

Will Whitlow, from Georgia, said Mr. Trump’s recognition of the march is a sign of how far the pro-life movement has come.

“I really like that he’s making the effort to actually address us at the march,” said Mr. Whitlow, 20. “I think that really speaks a lot toward where the nation is headed, and I look forward to the possibility of pro-life legislation.”

Michelle Ashley, an organizer with the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List from Ohio, said she’s been happy with Mr. Trump’s performance in office, pointing to his expressed willingness to sign the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

“President Trump has been great to the pro-life movement,” Ms. Ashley said.

The president’s pro-life accomplishments include nominating Neil M. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court — widely considered to be a vote in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade — and repealing an Obama-era regulation that prohibited states from considering whether a clinic performs abortions in the distribution of Title X dollars, which are earmarked for family planning.

Although some bigger ticket items, such as the 20-week abortion ban and defunding Planned Parenthood, have stalled in Congress, pro-lifers say Mr. Trump’s support has been unwavering.

Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, said the movement is “greatly appreciative of the policies that you are enacting to protect the unborn in the United States of America.”

“I bet he can actually hear you right down there,” Ms. Mancini said, drawing a raucous cheer from the crowd.

Vice President Mike Pence, who also addressed the March for Life via satellite, called Mr. Trump “the most pro-life president in American history.”

Other speakers at the march included: House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, former Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk and Pamela Tebow, the mother of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Tim Tebow.

Mr. Ryan said the pro-life movement is making progress, pointing to the passage of the Born Alive Survivors Protection Act, which the House voted on Friday to coincide with the March for Life. The legislation would protect babies who are born alive after failed abortions.

“Do you know why the pro-life movement is on the rise? Because truth is on our side,” Mr. Ryan said. “Life begins at conception.”

• Bradford Richardson can be reached at brichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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