One of the unequivocal bright spots of the Trump Administration is the president’s sympathy for pro-life causes. Now, President Trump is poised to break new presidential ground by becoming the first president to personally attend the March for Life.
The March for Life dates back to 1974, the year following the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade. Although numerous presidents have supported the pro-life cause, none has ever attended the march. President Reagan addressed marchers by phone in 1987 and George W. Bush spoke to the crowds by phone in 2003 and 2008. In 2018, President Trump live-streamed an address to the march. Vice President Mike Pence attended the march in 2019.
Although he has been rumored to have paid for abortions for his mistresses, President Trump has had a strong pro-life record while in office. The Susan B. Anthony List names a variety of Trump accomplishments for the pro-life cause, which consist largely of appointing pro-life causes and taking a series of temporary executive actions that restrict federal funding for abortion.
While Trump’s attendance at the March for Life is groundbreaking, it is also largely symbolic. So far, the Trump Administration – as well as previous pro-life administrations – have been unable to force permanent restrictions on the practice of abortion or persuade the Supreme Court to overturn Roe. State governments have been somewhat more successful with several passing fetal heartbeat bills and other laws that restrict abortions, laws which are still currently tied up in court battles.
While pro-life sentiment is strong within the Republican Party, Americans are split on the issue of abortion. The largest share of voters, 53 percent according to Gallup, supports restricted abortion while the remainder is split almost evenly between abolitionists and people who oppose all restrictions on the practice.
Nevertheless, pro-life advocates seem to be winning the war of ideas. Statistics from the Guttmacher Institute show that abortion in the United States is undergoing a long-term decline. Abortion peaked in the early 1980s and has been below 1973 levels since about 2012.
While I disagree with President Trump on a great many things, I do appreciate his support for the pro-life cause and salute him for taking the time to attend the March for Life. I award him the coveted “good Trump” kudos for the decision.
I’ll also note that despite the emphasis on legislation and judicial appointments, the largest impact on reducing the abortion seems to have come from old fashioned persuasion. Rather than top-down edicts from legislatures and judges, the best way forward may be to continue to use advanced technology to show people life in the womb and appeal to the logical and obvious fact that unborn babies are still living human beings.