Nearly 200 students from Colorado Christian University will lead about 100,000 pro-life advocates from around the country Friday in the 47th annual March for Life to the U.S. Supreme Court, where President Trump is set to become the first commander in chief to attend and address the rally.
Katie McTavish, a Colorado Christian student, said she has never attended the March for Life, but considers it an “honor” to serve as a “voice for the voiceless.”
“When I was 14 years old I became passionate about fighting human trafficking,” said Ms. McTavish, 20. “I looked at the injustices of that one, and once you’re aware of one injustice, then you want to fight against others.”
March for Life organizers announced Wednesday via Twitter that Mr. Trump would address the rally.
“Thank you, President Trump, for being a voice for the unborn and continuously working to build a culture of life,” the nonprofit advocacy group tweeted.
“See you on Friday…Big Crowd!” the president tweeted.
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Friday’s march comes amid reports of the national abortion rate plummeting over the last decade, and state governments are restricting or enshrining the procedure in their laws ahead of a conservative-led Supreme Court possibly weakening or overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
Six states — North Dakota, South Dakota, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and West Virginia — have only one abortion clinic, and other states in the South and Midwest are legislating to limit or even outlaw the practice. In March, the Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether a Louisiana law requiring doctors performing abortions maintain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
In North Dakota, about 22 induced terminations of pregnancy were performed a week in 2018 at the abortion clinic in Fargo, according to state data. The state’s rate (roughly 8 per every 1,000 women of reproductive age) is equivalent its more populated, eastern neighbor in Minnesota, where there are fewer abortion restrictions.
Last year North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican, signed legislation banning a procedure commonly used in late-term abortions. In 2013, the state was the first to pass a fetal heartbeat ban. Thirty years ago, nearly a third-more abortions were performed in the state.
“Ultimately, [closing the Fargo clinic] is our end goal 100%,” Medora Nagle, executive director of North Dakota Right to Life, told The Washington Times. “We believe in order to achieve that we need to take it step-by-step. We believe in incrementalism.”
On Monday, Catholic school children boarded buses in Bismarck to travel to Washington, D.C., by Friday. It’s the first year for Chris Kraft, director of Catechesis for Youth, leading the 25-hour trip after attending for the first time last year.
“We’re really fired up,” Mr. Kraft said. “There’s droves of North Dakotans coming their way.”
He described the trip as a religious “pilgrimage,” with seven diocesan priests aboard the busses, rosary readings, and singing. But Mr. Kraft said he’s unsure about the laws that they want banned or changed.
“It’s more of a ‘wow,” he said. “Within our very own country I can’t believe that so many young people have life taken from them without even having an opportunity to live.”
A similar sentiment was expressed by other students from Colorado Christian University, a nondenominational Christian school in Lakewood. They dismissed the politics of the issue and instead engaged in a discussion about ministering to women in need.
“I follow the political news, personally,” said Colorado Christian student Jessica Hardman, 20. “However, I don’t think it’s a political issue. It’s an ethics issue, and every party can come together.”
Pro-choice advocates, meanwhile, dismissed Mr. Trump’s planned appearance at the March for Life rally as an attempt to distract from his impeachment trial in the Senate.
“He takes refuge in his ability to whip up a radical anti-choice base, spewing falsehoods when he feels threatened,” NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue said in a written statement. “The majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade; a majority of Americans reject Trump’s extremism.”
Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, tweeted that his announced participation was “confirmation that the sitting President of the United States is determined to end the American people’s ability to access abortion.”
According to a Pew Research Center survey in August, 61% of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases and 38% say the procedure should be illegal in all or most cases.