Vice President Mike Pence became the highest-ranking government official to ever address the annual March for Life rally in D.C. on Friday, pledging that the new administration would limit abortion access as much as possible in the United States.
He opened with a reference to the Declaration of Independence’s right to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” saying that the country had abandoned the first principle when the Supreme Court gave women a constitutional right to abortion in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
“Today, three generations hence, because of all of you and the many thousands who stand with us in marches all across the nation, life is winning again in America,” Pence told the cheering crowd.
The 44th annual March for Life brought thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators to the National Mall, carrying signs declaring “I am the pro-life generation” and “Abortion is murder.” Organisers and participants expressed their glee that the tide finally seems to be turning in their favour.
All three branches of government are now controlled by the Republican party, which has traditionally opposed abortion rights, and will have the opportunity to use that power to restrict those rights in the next four years.
In his fourth day in office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order reinstating a gag order keeping non-governmental organisations that receive federal funding from discussing abortion abroad.
For the judicial branch, Pence said Trump will name his nominee for the vacant Supreme Court seat next week, and that they would oppose abortion rights.
And in Congress, Republican majorities are vowing to ‘defund’ Planned Parenthood, and ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Trump has said he’d sign both measures.
“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 our posterity,” Pence concluded.
There was a war of hashtags among pro- and anti-abortion rights supporters on Twitter, with both #MarchForLife and #MarchofLies trending, representing a sharp divide on the contentious issue among Americans.
“Pence keeps speaking of ‘compassion.’ True compassion means preventing deaths from unsafe abortion — not bringing them back,” the Center for Reproductive Rights wrote on Twitter. “Pence says he shows ‘respect for the dignity and worth of every person.’ What about women?”
Meanwhile, Trump tweeted his support for the rally:
A majority of Americans support the constitutional right for women to get abortions. Pew Research Center polls have found that 59% of US adults today support the legality of abortion in general, and 69% want the Supreme Court to uphold Roe — numbers that have both risen over time.
Scientific studies have found that when abortion access is limited, women are more likely to seek illegal abortions or try to perform them on their own, from which they are more likely to suffer severe complications or even die.
Watch Pence’s full remarks below:
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