WASHINGTON, DC (CNA/EWTN News) - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence urged pro-lifers to win over hearts with gentleness and compassion at the 2017 March for Life on Friday.
"So I urge you to press on," Pence told the audience gathered on the National Mall for the rally, imploring them "as it is written, let your gentleness be evident to all."
"Let this movement be known for love, not anger," he said, "let it be known for compassion, not confrontation."
The pro-life movement can win the hearts and minds of young people "if our hearts first break for young mothers and their unborn children, and if we each of us do all we can to meet them where they are with generosity, not judgement."
The 44th annual March for Life was held on Friday in Washington, D.C. The world's largest annual pro-life rally, the march has been held every year since 1974 on or around the Jan. 22 anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that mandated legal abortion nationwide.
Generally, the annual march draws hundreds of thousands of attendees to the nation's capital, primarily young people.
Pence was the first sitting vice president to address the March for Life. "I'm deeply humbled to stand before you today," he told a cheering crowd.
"On behalf of the President of the United States," he said, "we thank you for your stand for life" and "for your compassion, for your love of the women and children of America."
"And be assured, along with you, we will not grow weary, we will not rest until we restore a culture of life in America for ourselves and for our posterity."
Pence noted the administration's reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy earlier this week. The policy bars the reception of taxpayer dollars by international non-governmental organizations which perform or promote abortions overseas.
He promised the Trump administration "will work with the Congress to end taxpayer funding of abortion and abortion providers" and will reallocate those resources to groups that help women. This week, the House of Representatives passed a bill banning taxpayer dollars from directly funding abortions.
Pence also said that next week, a pro-life nominee will be announced to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Other scheduled speakers at the rally included Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, Trump's advisor Kellyanne Conway, members of Congress, and tight end Benjamin Watson of the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League.
Cardinal Dolan, in his prayer at the rally, thanked God for a country "where the dignity of each human person" is "a self-evident truth."
"Our prayers are the more fervent" on this day, he said, noting that "our supplication this afternoon is the more hopeful as we rejoice in the solidarity of the hundreds of thousands" participating in the March.
Pence insisted that the pro-life movement must uphold the dignity of human life of all vulnerable persons.
"Society can be judged by how we care for the most vulnerable," he said, pointing to the aged, infirm, disabled, and unborn as examples. "We've come to a historic moment in the cause of life," he added, and "we must meet this moment with respect and compassion for every American."
"Life is winning in America," he said, "and today is a celebration of that progress, the progress that we've made in that cause."
Speakers at the rally also insisted that mothers be cared for and supported.
"This is a time of incredible promise for the pro-life, pro-adoption movement," Conway said, stressing that the pro-life movement must help women "who face unplanned pregnancies."
"They should know that they are not alone," she said, "they too are protected and cared for, and celebrated."
"May God bless the women who are struggling with unplanned pregnancies," said Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah), "may we help them discover their power and their potential."