The White House announced on Wednesday, Jan. 18, that President Donald Trump will address the annual March for Life in Washington D.C. on Friday, becoming the first president to do so since the annual event was first held in 1974.
March for Life protests the “Roe v. Wade” Supreme Court decision which mandated that states legalize abortion.
Vice President Mike Pence became the first sitting vice president to address the march in person last year. George W. Bush addressed the group by phone in 2008 and Ronald Reagan did the same in 1987.
“The president is committed to protecting the life of the unborn and he is excited to be part of this historic event,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
Trump will address the march via a live satellite feed from the Rose Garden accompanied by young March for Life participants and the organization’s chairman, Patrick Kelly.
The Rose Garden holds great symbolism for the group, which regularly delivered roses to members of Congress during the annual marches. The red rose has symbolized childbirth since the 16th century and also represents mourning.
The March for Life logo, a red rose with its petals shaped to show a mother cradling a child, represents “the 55 million unique American lives that have been lost to abortion in the past 41 years,” the organization wrote in a statement.
Trump has taken several steps to curb abortion since taking office. He re-enacted the Reagan era “Mexico City” policy during his first week in office. The policy prohibits non-governmental organizations that perform abortions or promote abortion from receiving government funds.
Trump also axed an Obama-era regulation that barred states from defunding abortion providers, according to Politico. The president’s administration also said that it would enforce an Affordable Care Act provision that bans taxpayer dollars from covering abortion.
Trump also promised to sign legislation to put a limit on how late a pregnancy can be aborted and vowed to defund Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States. The president appointed a battery of pro-life judges that can impact the legal position on abortion even after he leaves office.
“He has been great on pro-life public policy,” March for Life’s president, Jeanne Mancini, told Politico. “He doesn’t lack courage. He’s been leaning into this issue in a way that’s refreshing.”
The number of abortions performed in the United States has declined steadily since the 1990s. In 1990, Centers for Disease Control reported 1,429,577 legal abortions in the United States. That number declined to 820,151 in 2005 and 652,639 in 2014.
In December, The Justice Department announced an investigation into Planned Parenthood over the sale of human fetal tissue.