U.S. President Donald Trump is scheduled to speak to the participants in the March for Life anti-abortion march on Friday. The Washington Post reported today that Trump will speak to the marchers from the White House via a satellite hook-up.
During a press briefing on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that Trump would speak to the rally, which takes place annually in Washington, D.C.
“On Friday, we’re excited to announce that the President will become the first sitting President to address the March for Life from the White House live via satellite,” Sanders told media at the White House. “This will take place from the Rose Garden.
“The President is committed to protecting the life of the unborn, and he is excited to be part of this historic event,” she added.
The march began the year after the landmark Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision, a pillar of abortion rights in America. That decision was handed down on January 22, 1973, and each January since, for 44 years, on or about the 22nd, a coalition of anti-abortion groups and individuals march on Washington to protest it and draw attention to their cause.
While some members of the anti-abortion community consider Trump too crude for their cause, most consider him to be a great and valuable supporter of the movement that seeks to, among other things, overturn Roe v. Wade. Trump raised their hopes during his 2016 campaign for the White House when he said that if elected president he would seek to nominate conservative justices to the Supreme Court.
Trump v. Clinton: Abortion debate
During the final presidential debate with Hillary Clinton in October of 2016, he said overturning the ruling would “happen automatically” should he win the Oval Office and be able to appoint more justices.
“Well, if we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that’s really what’s going to be — that will happen,” Trump said during the debate in Las Vegas. “And that’ll happen automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court. I will say this: It will go back to the states, and the states will then make a determination.”
To date, he has appointed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and that has, for the most part, given the conservative vote a 5-4 edge. However, Justice Anthony Kennedy, while a conservative who more often votes with his allies on the court, has voted with the liberals in some important decisions, including decisions on LGBT rights and abortion rights.
Should the 81-year-old Kennedy retire — and sources close to him, as Reuters reporters Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung note in a 2017 article, suggest he is considering stepping down — then Roe v. Wade may be in jeopardy. Kennedy was nominated to the lifetime position in 1987.
Neither the White House nor March for Life organizers have indicated what President Trump will say to marchers on Friday. Typically, the march begins at noon with a rally at the National Mall and then moves on to the steps of the Supreme Court for a second rally.
National Park Service spokesperson Mike Litterst told media that organizers applied for, and were granted, a permit for a march of between 50,000 and 100,000 people. March organizers claimed in 2013 that there were 65,000 people in attendance, the highest figure they’ve estimated, though other sources claimed that number was inflated.
Former-President Barack Obama is an avowed believer in a woman’s right to choose and never addressed the marchers. The only presidents to have spoken to the rally were Ronald Reagan (1987, via telephone hook-up) and George W. Bush (2003, via telephone hook-up). U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence spoke to marchers in 2017.