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

Donald Trump during a video-speech to the March For Life rally in 2018.

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Donald Trump during a video-speech to the March For Life rally in 2018.
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Mark Wilson/Getty Images
  • On Friday President Donald Trump will attend March For Life, an anti-abortion rally in Washington, DC.
  • It is the first time a sitting president has attended the March For Life rally since the event began 47 years ago.
  • Abortion rights advocates say the Trump administration’s involvement in the anti-abortion movement threatens safety and basic human rights.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

On Friday President Donald Trump will attend March For Life, an anti-abortion rally in Washington, DC. It will be the first time a sitting president has attended the March For Life rally in the event’s 47-year history.

He is slated to deliver a speech during the rally. In 2018 he spoke to March For Life attendees via video.

“Under my administration, we will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independence,” he told the crowd, “and that is the right to life.”

Trump and his administration have won praise from anti-abortion groups for his hardline stance against reproductive rights, including from the president of March For Life, Jeanne Mancini.

“From the appointment of pro-life judges and federal workers, to cutting taxpayer funding for abortions here and abroad, to calling for an end to 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,” Mancini said in a statement to the New York Times.

Perhaps the biggest champion for the anti-abortion movement within Trump’s administration is Vice President Mike Pence. In 2017 he became the first sitting vice president to attend March For Life. Last spring he posted a tweet saying he hoped the Supreme Court would “recognize” discrimination against the “unborn” and ward against it.

Abortion rights activists say the Trump administration’s involvement in the anti-abortion movement threatens safety and basic human rights

Christian F. Nunes, the vice president of the nonprofit National Organization for Women, said Trump’s “anti-women agenda” severely damages women’s health and access to reproductive service.

“He’s making things really difficult for women’s free reproductive choice and rights,” Nunes told Insider. “This issue is definitely bigger than Trump himself, but the damage he’s been doing in office has started to change the values and perceptions of Americans.”

“We’re seeing them become more hostile, aggressive, more biased. [Trump] is putting an army in place that continues to … violate basic human rights,” she said.

Recent data from the non-profit National Abortion Federation (NAF) shows a considerable uptick in anti-abortion activity in 2018 – including everything from internet harassment and hate mail to picketing and obstructing abortion clinics. In 2017, there were reports of roughly 78,000 anti-abortion protesters. That number grew by more than 25% the following year, to over 99,000 reported protesters.

Anti-abortion demonstrators hold a sign as 2020 Women's March begins in Washington, DC.

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Anti-abortion demonstrators hold a sign as 2020 Women’s March begins in Washington, DC.
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Zach Gibson/Getty Images

The Very Reverend Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, NAF’s president and CEO, told Insider that in her 35-plus years as a reproductive-rights advocate, she has not seen a time of more violent backlash and repression than the present.

Trump’s presidency, she said, has breathed new life into the anti-abortion movement.

“It used to be that that rhetoric came from fringe extremists and they spoke to each other and revved each other up for violence,” Ragsdale told Insider. “But now with Trump, it’s in the State of the Union Address, it’s at the rallies, it’s in the halls of Congress and state legislatures.”