WASHINGTON, DC (CNA/EWTN News) - President Donald Trump praised the pro-life movement's support for pregnant women and touted his administration's pro-life policy achievements in his remarks to the March for Life Friday.
"You come from many backgrounds, many places, but you all come for one beautiful cause: to build a society where life is celebrated, protected and cherished," he told the March for Life Jan. 19 via videocast. "The March for Life is a movement born out of love."
"You love every child, born and unborn, because you believe that every life is sacred, that every child is a precious gift from God," he told the marchers on the National Mall while speaking before an audience in the White House Rose Garden. "Because of you, tens of thousands of Americans have been born and reached their full God-given potential. Because of you."
Hundreds of thousands of people were in Washington, D.C. to attend this year's March for Life, which is in its 45th year. The theme of this year's march is "Love Saves Lives." The march is held annually on or near the anniversary of the Jan. 22, 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision which mandated permissive abortion laws nationwide.
The president said he was "honored and really proud" to address the march. While previous presidents addressed the march while in office by phone or remote loudspeaker, organizers said he is the first president to do so via telecast.
Trump said the Roe decision resulted in "some of the most permissive abortion laws anywhere in the world," making the U.S. comparable to countries like China and North Korea in permitting late-term abortions.
"It is wrong, it has to change," he said. "Americans are more and more pro-life."
Trump promised that his administration would always defend the right to life.
He touted his re-implementation of the Mexico City Policy, which bars federal funds for groups that perform or promote abortion overseas, and cited his administration's reversal of an Obama-era policy that restricted state's efforts to direct federal dollars away from "facilities that violate the law." He voiced strong support for a House bill to ban late-term abortions in which supporters say the unborn child can feel pain. Trump called on the Senate to "pass this important law."
He also cited his executive order protecting religious liberty and an effort to protect conscience rights and religious freedom of doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals.
The president also introduced Marianne Donaido, a woman whose parents supported her when she became pregnant at the age of 17. He praised her work with Room at the Inn, a Greensboro, N.C.-based maternity program that helps house and support pregnant homeless women. The charity is affiliated with Catholic Charities USA.
In a separate Jan. 19 statement, Trump declared that Jan. 22, the anniversary of the Roe decision, will be National Sanctity of Human Life Day, "to affirm the truth that all life is sacred, that every person has inherent dignity and worth, and that no class of people should ever be discarded as 'non-human'."
Vice President Mike Pence, who addressed last year's March for Life in person, introduced Trump in the Rose Garden. He said the Roe Supreme Court decision "turned its back on the right to life" but began the pro-life movement that continues today, a movement defined by "compassion and love."
"Life is winning in America, because love save lives," he told the march. "Your compassion, your persistence your activism and your prayers are saving lives... this pro-life generation should never doubt that we are with you."
"This president stands with you," he said, contending that Trump was "the most pro-life president in American history."
Trump once declared himself "pro-choice in every respect," but increasingly advocated anti-abortion views ahead of and during his 2016 election campaign, Politico reports.
Other political leaders at the March for Life rally were House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and other Members of Congress, including U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.).
In previous years Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush addressed the March for Life remotely.