Trump, Pence lend support to anti-abortion demo

Trump, Pence lend support to anti-abortion demo

Anti-abortion marchers walk past the U.S. Capitol during the 46th annual March for Life in Washington. Reuters

Thousands of anti-abortion activists rallied in Washington on Friday at the annual March for Life -- with the staunch support of President Donald Trump.

Trump, who became the first sitting president to address the demonstration last year, appeared once again by videolink, and Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise appearance at what organizers call "the world's largest pro-life event."

"Today, I have signed a letter to Congress to make clear that if they send any legislation to my desk that weakens the protection of human life, I will veto," Trump said.

Pence, with his wife Karen at his side, assured demonstrators: "From the White House to your house, life is winning in America once again." The march is organized each year on or near an anniversary that infuriates anti-abortion activists -- the Supreme Court's ruling in Roe v. Wade, which legalized the procedure nationwide on January 22, 1973.

The anniversary offers the religious right an opportunity to rally its forces and demand that the law be changed.

"Every life matters from the moment of conception until natural death, not just babies but every human being," Mary Ryback, a mother who traveled from Milwaukee to participate in the rally, told AFP.

She said she came to Washington to "pray to end the horrible things going on with the people in this country that think they have the right -- which is only God's -- to give life and take it away."

The crowd, which included students from religious schools around the country, carried many signs with various slogans: "Defend Life," "Love Life, Choose Life" or "Let God Plan Parenthood." Indiana resident Dave Doran called the decision in Roe v. Wade "an atrocity."

He said that even if it is never reversed, "we can provide new laws that will define personhood and give the fetus and child the protection of our US Constitution." As it does each year, the march left the National Mall, and ended at the Supreme Court behind the Capitol building.

Since taking office in 2017, Trump has named two justices to the Supreme Court who oppose abortion, leading activists who support abortion rights to fear that Roe v. Wade could be overturned.

While Roe v. Wade remains the law of the land, numerous states have taken measures to limit access to abortions.

In November, voters in Alabama approved an amendment to the state constitution that affords a fetus the same rights as a newborn child. The text also says that the state does not protect the right to an abortion.

Alabama does not make exceptions in cases of incest, rape or danger to the mother's life.