Politics

Trump will be the first sitting president to attend March for Life anti-abortion rally

Key Points
  • President Trump plans to address Friday's March for Life, becoming the first sitting president in the event's history to attend the Washington gathering.
  • Trump announced his plans via tweet on Wednesday, the 47th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision, as House Democrats laid out their impeachment case for removing him from office.
  • The anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List launched a $52 million effort last Friday to support Trump's reelection.
US President Donald Trump speaks during a "Keep America Great" campaign rally at Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio, on January 9, 2020.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

President Donald Trump plans to address Friday's March for Life, becoming the first sitting president in the event's 47-year history to attend the Washington protest against the landmark Roe vs. Wade ruling.

Trump announced his plans via a tweet Wednesday, the 47th anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision, as House Democrats began laying out their case in the Senate impeachment trial for removing him from office.

"See you on Friday...Big Crowd!" Trump said, replying to a tweet from the March for Life account promoting the event.

The rally — one of the anti-abortion movement's premier events — has been held annually since 1974, one year after the Supreme Court ruling, which legalized abortions.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar called the White House in a statement on Thursday the "most pro-life administration in this country's history."

"We are proud to be 'the Department of Life' and will continue protecting life and lives while upholding the fundamental freedoms and inherent dignity of all Americans," Azar said in the statement. 

Other presidents have addressed the rally via phone or through a video message, but Trump will be the first president to attend in person.

Acting President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Action Fund Alexis McGill Johnson rebuked Trump's decision to attend the rally.

"While Trump stands with the small number of Americans who want politicians to interfere with their personal health decisions, we'll be standing with the nearly 80 percent of Americans who support abortion access," Johnson said in a statement. "We will never stop fighting for all of the people in this country who need access to sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion."

A poll last year found that 77% of Americans support Roe v. Wade and don't want to see it overturned.

Jeanne Mancini, March for Life president, said in a tweet that the president would be welcome at the rally.

"We are excited to share the love and energy of the March for Life with you in person, thank you for coming!" she said.

Mancini praised Trump for cutting taxpayer funding for abortions, appointing anti-abortion judges and voicing support against late-term abortions.

"President Trump and his Administration have been consistent champions for life and their support for the March for Life has been unwavering," she said.

The anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List launched a $52 million effort last Friday to support Trump's reelection.

SBA List, via its super PAC Women Speak Out, will use the money to canvass key battleground states: Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Iowa, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.

Read more: Anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List to spend $52 million to help Trump win in 2020

Trump once identified as "very pro-choice," saying in a 1999 "Meet the Press" interview, "I hate the concept of abortion. I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I listen to people debating the subject. But I still believe in choice."

But during his 2016 campaign, the president sought out anti-abortion voters, appearing at rallies and major fundraisers and vowing to defund global family planning efforts at the United Nations.

His renewed vocal support for anti-abortion groups comes in the middle of a heated presidential campaign and weeks before the Supreme Court is set to take up its first major abortion-related case with both of his appointees, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, on the bench.

The high court will review a 2014 Louisiana law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility where the abortions are provided. Opponents said it would effectively leave just one abortion provider for a state with about 4.6 million residents.

On Jan. 2, 207 lawmakers, including two Democrats, filed an amicus brief in the case, urging the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade.