President Trump delivered a speech before a sprawling crowd gathered on the National Mall for this year’s March for Life demonstration against abortion, making him the first president ever to offer an in-person address at the rally.
“All of us here understand an eternal truth: Every child is a precious and sacred gift from God,” Trump said Friday, Jan 24. “Together, we must protect, cherish, and defend the dignity and the sanctity of every human life. When we see the image of a baby in the womb, we glimpse the majesty of God's creation.”
He also lauded pro-life activists who “make it your life’s mission to help spread God’s grace.”
James Gebhart, a Roman Catholic seminarian studying in Baltimore, said he appreciated Trump’s speech and hoped it would draw more attention to the march.
“I think it was good that he came here to show that support publicly and in person,” said Gebhart. "(Trump) actually talks about God in his talks, and he recognizes what life is and recognizes the sacredness of that life. He's willing to say that to people, and to a country that needs to hear it.”
Jessica Hardman, an evangelical Christian student from Colorado Christian University, also expressed excitement at the president’s presence.
“It's so cool that our president is coming to this,” she said.
Hardman, a sophomore, said she and nearly 200 of her CCU classmates flew out from Colorado earlier this week to attend Friday’s gathering, where they acted as flag-bearers at the front of the march.
“Christ has called us to love our neighbor … and loving our neighbor means looking out for the least of these,” Ethan Van Buskirk, president of CCU for Life, said as he stood in front of a column of marchers that stretched for blocks. “The most vulnerable people in our society right now are the unborn.”
Trump’s address was preceded by a video message from Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, who were in Rome after visiting with Pope Francis earlier in the day. The vice president said in the video that he thanked the pope "for all that he and Catholic Americans have done to defend the sanctity of human life in the history of this movement."
Not everyone in the crowd was wholly supportive of the president. A group of Franciscan friars dressed in brown robes was vocally critical of Trump’s policies unrelated to abortion, arguing that his administration’s approach to climate change, immigration and war is “anti-life.” The group handed out signs to marchers as they passed and brandished a banner that read "Choose Life - Not War."
“The president said today ‘every child is a precious and sacred gift of God.’ I emphatically agree. But I want a country that is 100% pro-life,” said Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, one of the Franciscans. “Aren't children in the path of hurricanes and wildfires and climate disruption sacred gifts of God? ... Aren’t children at the border sacred gifts from God? The president is acting against life in so many ways, acting against the moral teachings of the Catholic Church on climate change, immigration, health care and war. As a pro-life follower of Jesus, I find it morally offensive to have President Trump as the main speaker at the March for Life."
The movement against abortion will outlast any politician, insisted CCU student Jordan Jantzen—who said he supports Trump.
“Whether it be a leader from any party, if they're willing to stand up for the right to life and for the sanctity of life, we are 100% behind those people — because we believe that the sanctity of human life is of utmost importance,” he said.
© Religion News Service 2020
The Banner has a subscription to Religion and Faith (AP/RNS) and occasionally re-publishes articles of wide Christian interest, according to the license. This story has been edited for length. The original story can be found here.