In remarks broadcast to the March for Life from the White House Rose Garden, President Donald Trump said that his administration “will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independence, and that is the right to life.”
He invoked the theme of this year’s march, “Love Saves Lives,” and praised the crowd as being very special and “such great citizens gathered in our nation’s capital from many places for one beautiful cause” — celebrating and cherishing life.
“Every unborn child is a precious gift from God,” he said. His remarks were interrupted several times by applause from the crowd gathered on the National Mall. He praised the pro-lifers for having “such big hearts and tireless devotion to make sure parents have the support they need to choose life.”
“You’re living witnesses of this year’s March for Life theme, ‘Love Saves Lives,’” he said. His remarks were broadcast to the crowd live via satellite to a Jumbotron above the speakers’ stage, a first for any U.S. president, according to March for Life.
During their tenure in office, President Ronald Reagan, President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush all addressed the march via telephone or a radio hookup from the Oval Office, with their remarks broadcast to the crowd.
President Trump spoke with a crowd surrounding him in the Rose Garden, including 20 students from the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota.
One of those standing next to the President was a Marianne Donadio, a top official with Room at the Inn, a nationally-accredited Catholic ministry based in North Carolina that serves homeless, pregnant women and single mothers with children.
Vice President Mike Pence, who addressed last year’s March for Life in person at President Trump’s request, introduced the President as the “most pro-life president in American history,” for among other things issuing an executive memorandum shortly after his inauguration to reinstate the “Mexico City Policy.” The policy bans all foreign nongovernmental organizations receiving U.S. funds from performing or promoting abortion as a method of family planning in other countries.
President Trump also has nominated pro-life judges to fill several court vacancies and a day before the March for Life the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced formation of a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the HHS Office for Civil Rights. Its aim is to protect the conscience rights of doctors and other health care workers who do not want to perform procedures they consider morally objectionable.
“Vigor and enthusiasm”
March officials estimated that more 100,000 were in attendance.
Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, opened the rally by calling on everyone in the crowd to text the word “March” to 7305 and to show their commitment to ending abortion and join their voices in calling on Congress to defund Planned Parenthood.
“Do you agree that’s important?” she asked the crowd. “Yes!” they shouted. March for Life, she said, is about educating people about abortion and mobilizing to end it and to love all those women and families who are facing a troubled pregnancy and other needs.
“‘Love Saves Lives’ is this year’s theme,” she added. “Love and sacrifice go hand in hand It is not easy. No one ever said it was, but it is the right choice … the self-sacrificial option.”
In an interview with Catholic News Service before the march began, Mancini said that as a pro-life Catholic she believes “100 percent” in Church teaching that the sanctity of all life, from conception to natural death, must be protected.
But she said the annual March for Life has a singular purpose — to mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe decision legalizing abortion through nine months of pregnancy nationwide.
She believes abortion is “the single most significant social justice cause of our time.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, was among several others who addressed the crowd from the speakers’ platform.
“Thank God for giving us a pro-life president in the White House,” the Catholic congressman said.
“Your energy is so infectious,” he told the crowd, praising them for being “the vigor and enthusiasm of the pro-life movement.” (CNS)