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President Trump To Address March For Life Attendees


Thousands of anti-abortion rights demonstrators were in Washington today to protest the Supreme Court's 1973 decision legalizing abortion. It's the 45th year in a row for what's known as the March for Life. This year the crowd heard from the 45th president, who has turned out to be a bigger champion than some expected. NPR's Pam Fessler reports.

PAM FESSLER, BYLINE: Many in today's crowd carried signs such as choose life and make America pro-life again. But perhaps the most promising sign for attendees was the guest speaker, introduced by Vice President Mike Pence.


VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: The most pro-life president in American history, President Donald Trump.

FESSLER: And many who had gathered on the Mall said they think that's true even though President Trump once called himself, quote, "very pro-choice." Neither Pence nor Trump were actually at the rally. They addressed it via a live satellite feed from the White House, but even that's a first. Other presidents have only phoned into the march.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We are protecting the sanctity of life and the family as the foundation of our society.

FESSLER: The president noted that just yesterday his administration announced new protections for health care workers who refuse to assist in abortions on moral or religious grounds. And one of his first acts as president was to stop funding international aid groups that perform or promote abortion. And there's even more reason for optimism, said Blaine Wininger, who came to the rally from Lake Charles, La., with students from the high school where he teaches.

BLAINE WININGER: Just in general, you know, trying to seek out justices such as the latest appointment, who has a history of, you know - of siding with pro-life issues.

FESSLER: He's talking about Trump's appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. But marchers also praise the president's other judicial picks. Still, there's a lot on their agenda that faces resistance in Congress, including a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks. Mary Gagnon of Ellicott City, Md., carried a sign that said defund Planned Parenthood, something else Trump has promised but Congress has failed to do. Still, Gagnon, who's 59, was encouraged by all the young people in today's crowd.

MARY GAGNON: I see that. I think that they really are the generation that's going to end abortion.

FESSLER: And she believes the tide's moving in that direction, but polls show that public opinion is deeply divided and has pretty much remained the same for decades. Pam Fessler, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.