After the astounding turnout of the Women’s March on Washington on January 21st, another group of activists is descending on the nation’s capital. This time, though, they have the support of the Trump administration in the form of the keynote speaker, Vice President Mike Pence.
The anti-abortion March for Life has taken place every year in Washington, D.C. for the last 44 years on or near the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. But Mike Pence will be the first vice president to speak at the event, lending the rally a serious note of legitimacy and clearly showing that the administration plans to stick to its campaign promises of restricting abortion. Trump adviser, apologist, and noted “alternate facts” enthusiast Kellyanne Conway also spoke at the event.
The rally comes only days after Trump signed an executive order banning funding to foreign groups that provide abortions and with the Republican-majority congress pledging to cut funding to Planned Parenthood and restrict abortions to under 20 weeks. With Trump also set to announce his presumably pro-life pick for the vacant Supreme Court seat, anti-abortion activists are taking heart after a number of setbacks during the Obama administration. Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, told the Associated Press that she believes Trump’s pledges to support anti-abortion causes led many people to vote for him regardless of his other failings. “I don’t identify as a Republican or a Democrat but I do vote pro-life,” she said.
For other marchers, it was all about the cause, regardless of the speakers. “There’s going to be people that are conservative, people that are liberal, but the main focus of the movement is to end abortion,” Terrisa Bukovinac, the West Coast coordinator for Secular Pro-Life and president of Pro-Life Future of San Francisco told The Huffington Post in an email. “So everybody for the most part in the pro-life movement is looking to unite on that factor. They know that we can’t end the practice of abortion in the United States with just conservatives. We can’t end it with just liberals. We need everyone to care about this issue.”
Another marcher, Liz Kehrman, told The Washington Post that she was actually inspired to march because she dislikes Trump so much. “Trump does not respect life in all forms,” she said “All life deserves to be treated with dignity, but he does not value women with dignity, nor the poor, nor refugees with dignity.”
Abortion remains an extremely divisive issue in the United States. According to the AP, the most recent Gallup survey on the subject found “that 47 percent of Americans described themselves as pro-choice and 46 percent as pro-life. It also found that 79 percent believed abortion should be legal in either some or all circumstances.” Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, told the AP that the poll is good news for abortion-rights and encourages people not to despair.
Organizers have told the National Park Service that they expect a turnout of about 50,000 people. But, of course, President Trump insisted that there would be far more than that: “You know, the press never gives them the credit that they deserve. They’ll have 300, 400, 500, 600 thousand people. You won’t even read about it. When other people show up, you read big-time about it. Right? So, it’s not fair, but nothing fair about the media.”
Well, we all know how he good he is at guessing turnout numbers.