Despite the initial skepticism—verging on outright hostility—that many leaders of the anti-abortion movement expressed toward Donald Trump as he fumbled his way around abortion rights issues during the Republican presidential primary, the movement eventually came around to Trump once he fell in line and began making a series of explicit promises to fulfill their policy goals.
This new cozy relationship was evident in today’s March for Life, where Trump sent two top emissaries—Vice President Mike Pence and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway—to address anti-choice demonstrators, and, while they were at it, to sing the praises of Donald Trump.
Pence declared to the crowd that “life is winning again in America,” thanks to Trump.
This winning, he said, “is no more evident in any way than in the historic election of a president who stands for a stronger America, a more prosperous America, and a president who I proudly say stands for the right to life, President Donald Trump.”
Trump, he said, “asked me to be here with you today” and to “thank you for your support, for your stand for life and for your compassion for the women and children of America.”
“One week ago today on the steps of the Capitol, we saw the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States,” he added. “And I can tell you first-hand, our president is a man with broad shoulders and a big heart. His vision, his energy, his optimism are boundless, and I know he will make America great again.”
“From his first day in office,” Pence said of Trump, “he’s been keeping his promises to the American people. I like to say over there at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., we’re in the promise-keeping business.”
Pence cited Trump’s reinstatement and expansion of the global gag rule, or Mexico City Policy, preventing foreign aid funding to organizations that provide, or even provide information on, abortion. He also said that the White House was working with Congress “to end taxpayer funding of abortion and abortion providers”—code for pulling federal funding for services provided by Planned Parenthood (which doesn’t receive tax dollars for abortions). Instead, he said, they would “devote those resources to healthcare services across America”; Pence later mentioned crisis pregnancy centers, which aim to steer women away from abortion and some of which don’t provide birth control.
And, of course, Pence hyped Trump’s promise that he will soon nominate a Supreme Court justice “in the tradition of the late and great Justice Antonin Scalia.”
Speaking before Pence, Conway similarly used the opportunity to shower praise on Trump and to paint him as a “pro-life” hero.
“Steps away from here,” she said, “in the White House, a president and a vice president sit at their desks and make decisions for a nation. As they sit there, they stand here with you. Their impassioned defenses of life as presidential candidates showed a nation that courage and commitment can overcome indifference and insults. And their decisive actions as president and vice president will further this conversation and this cause.”
She told the crowd that “we hear you, we see you, we respect you and we look forward to working with you.”