Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise cameo, a Montana senator announced a newly formed Pro-Life Caucus, and thousands of marchers held signs and marched up Constitution Avenue Friday afternoon to the Supreme Court during Friday’s annual March for Life in Washington, D.C.
President Donald Trump, who made history by being the first president to address the March for Life meeting by video last year, even squeezed in a sequel this year.
Speaking in a scripted, taped message, Mr. Trump told the cheering crowd standing on the muddy National Mall, “When we look into the eyes of a newborn child, we see the beauty and the human soul and the majesty of God’s creation.”
Mr. Trump — who proved to be somewhat divisive in last year’s March for Life, when longtime pro-life Democrat Dan Lipiniski bowed out of a speaking slot in what was largely seen as a rebuke of the Republican president’s role in the 2018 event — touted his administration’s support for the “Mexico City policy,” which blocks federal funding for foreign non-governmental organizations providing abortion counseling or referrals.
Students from Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, many of whom were too young in 2016 to vote for the president, spoke about their support for pro-life politicians in advance of Friday’s speakers.
“We don’t just say, ‘Because you’re pro-life, we’re going to vote for you. We still have to do our homework. But [anti-abortion stances] do play a large role,” said Cassidy Roderick, one of many Franciscan students who made the five-hour road trip.
Many attending the rally come from Catholic schools around the country, and many held signs championing “the pro-life generation,” a mantra supporters of restricting abortion say can be shown in recent polling data.
An October 2018 poll by the Public Religion Research Institute showed a majority of Americans still believe Roe v. Wade was decided correctly.
That sentiment was not held by Friday’s crowds.
“You look at the media and you kind of feel alone and then you realize, wow, there actually are a lot of folks in this movement,” said Claudia Moudatsoso, a freshman at Franciscan. “We really are part of the pro-life generation.”
When Mr. Pence and his wife, Karen, appeared on stage at Friday’s event, they appeared at home in front of the crowd.
“We’re the Pences, and we’re pro-life,” Mr. Pence said to cheers.
The marchw was a big platform for many pro-life politicians in Congress. Montana Sen. Steve Daines announced he was starting up the first-ever pro-life caucus in the Senate. And, prior to the event, Texas Congressman and growing social media star Dan Crenshaw, who on Thursday challenged Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to a public debate, was seen shooting a video with the crowd on his cell phone.
The crowd also heard from two Democrats, Lipinski, addressing the March for Life for the fourth time, and Louisiana State Rep. Katrina Jackson, who authored legislation requiring that abortions be administered by doctors who have admitting privileges at a local hospital.
“There’s no more blood more innocent than an unborn child,” Ms. Jackson said.
On Thursday, a bill to ban federal funding of abortion — making permanent the Hyde Amendment — failed to muster the necessary 60 votes in the Senate. In a morning broadcast of his conservative podcast, the Ben Shapiro Show, Mr. Shapiro pushed back on the politicization of the abortion debate and ticked off a series of arguments often raised by abortion-rights proponents and called them misguided.
While saying men who rape or commit incest against women should be put to death, Mr. Shapiro said a statistic that 7,000 pregnancies annually are from rape or incest was a “red herring” and distracted from the larger motivations of pro-choice advocates.
Although pro-choice groups such as Virginia-based Reproaction put out statements touting a video image projected onto the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Washington on Thursday evening and staged a counter-protest Friday morning prior to the marchers’ arrival at the Supreme Court, opposition to the March for Life was otherwise marginal.
One man holding up a sign that read “I Love Roe v. Wade” circled the Mall on a Segway, and two women holding up circular signs reading “Keep Abortion Legal” stood silently at the Supreme Court as crowds gathered.
The 46th annual March for Life, which is held around the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide, culminates with a private dinner Friday evening. Mr. Pence will be the headlining speaker.