Since Jan. 1974, thousands have taken the streets of Washington, DC with the vision of “a future world where the beauty and dignity of every human life are valued and protected.” Originally, intended to be a one-time event, as a way of bullying the United States Senate into providing a legislative solution to the controversy created by the Roe V. Wade Supreme Court decision–which legalized abortion nationally, Nellie Grey (the march’s organizer) worked to stage a march every year until the decision was reversed.
This year, President Donald J. Trump attended the event, becoming the first sitting president to ever do so. Though other Republican presidents have addressed the march in the past, notably Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, they did so via telephone connection. This begs the question: Why would a sitting president physically attend the March for Life? President Trump clearly lacks congressional support to mount any credible threat to Roe V. Wade, as Democrats control 53% of the house, and though the balance in the Senate tilts ever-so-slightly toward the Republican party, if a vote on abortion were to be held today, a formidable number of Republican senators would reject such a resolution.
Every Republican at the hill knows any legislation geared toward ending the legal practice of abortion is destined for failure, not only because of the Democratic-controlled House, but also because the public sentiment across the country favors the legality of abortion practices.
Therefore, the writer of this article would suggest that offering a conservative alternative toward placing a sunset on abortion is not the actual goal of the President; rather, Trump’s motivation lines up more with rallying the Evangelical forces which were responsible for his election nearly four years ago.
As a conservative Republican, I share the sentiment of the President’s words that “Every child is a precious and sacred gift from God” and that in fact “We must protect, cherish, and defend the dignity and sanctity of every human life.” However, any words Trump may offer to anti-abortion activists–and these are activists–is baseless and devoid of any real, tangible, piece of law. In actuality, any words the President may have wanted to deliver at the March for Life, he could have done so directly from the White House.
As it stands, Trump finds himself in the least enviable of places: he has been impeached by house, faces a potentially strong Democratic opponent this coming November, and could most likely experience setbacks in attracting independent voters, as well as moderate Democrats and Republicans. And so, the President has gone back to the oldest-existing hat trick in the Republican arsenal: courting and winning back the Evangelical vote. In American politics, no topic elicits the ire of Evangelicals, at least those aligning with conservative politics, than abortion. Trump knows he has not a chance of advancing the anti-abortion cause, which I think is one to commend and admire, however that will not stop the President from presenting an alternate reality which fulfills the desires of his so-far faithful Evangelical base.
Sources: The Washington Post, The March for Life Education and Defense Fund