By Marc Thiessen
History was made on Capitol Hill recently. No, I’m not talking about the presidential impeachment trial; that’s been done before. I’m talking about Pres. Trump’s decision to become the first U.S. president to speak in person at the March for Life.
It’s hard to overstate how important this development was. No president had ever previously attended the March for Life — not Ronald Reagan, not George H.W. Bush, not my old boss, George W. Bush. They all addressed the marchers remotely, via telephone or satellite link. The arrangement always seemed absurd. The marchers were on the Mall, literally in sight of the White House. Why not go out and join them? But despite the best of efforts of many inside previous administrations, none did.
The message to pro-life conservatives was clear: They were the black sheep of the Republican coalition. Their presence was tolerated because their votes were needed. But while Republican presidential candidates couldn’t win the nomination without declaring themselves pro-life, the GOP establishment not-so-secretly loathed pro-lifers. The prevailing attitude was: There they go again, making people uncomfortable by talking about abortion.
Pro-lifers took the scraps they were thrown from the GOP table because they had nowhere else to go. In today’s Democratic Party, abortion is no longer treated as a necessary evil but as something to be embraced and even celebrated. In 2018, for example, New York’s Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, lit up One World Trade Center — the Freedom Tower — to celebrate the passage of a new law that removes most restrictions on abortion, even in the third trimester.
Pro-life Democrats have all but disappeared on Capitol Hill, and the Democratic orthodoxy today is taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand up to the moment of birth. Dissent from that orthodoxy is not tolerated. For more than 40 years, former vice president Joe Biden supported the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding for abortions. He said that as a Catholic, he was personally pro-life and that “those of us who are opposed to abortion should not be compelled to pay for them.” But in 2020, that isn’t good enough. Biden, campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination, caved in to the pro-abortion radicals last June, abandoned his principles and embraced taxpayer funding.
Given their lack of other options, pro-lifers accepted their second-class-citizen status in the GOP. Then along came Trump, a man who doesn’t care what the Republican establishment thinks. He has embraced the pro-life movement in a way no other president has. In 2018, he became the first sitting president to address the annual Campaign for Life gala of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, founded in 1992. And then he made history again at the March for Life.
Trump was greeted as a pro-life hero, because he is one. He put two outstanding conservative justices on the Supreme Court and has appointed a record number of federal appeals court judges. He has allowed states to defund Planned Parenthood; defunded the pro-abortion U.N. Population Fund; and restored and expanded a ban, known as the Mexico City policy, on taxpayer funds for groups that perform abortions overseas. He has exempted organizations, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, that have moral objections to providing abortifacient drugs, from the Obamacare Health and Human Services mandate, and he has stood by the nuns as they fight to protect their religious liberty in the Supreme Court.
The president recently delivered the biggest blow to Planned Parenthood in three decades when he implemented the Protect Life Rule, which prohibits Title X family-planning funds from going to any clinic that performs on-site abortions. Planned Parenthood announced last year that it would leave the Title X program, barring a court victory.
No other president has amassed such a record of pro-life victories. But Trump has done more than simply govern as a pro-life conservative; he has embraced pro-life conservatives without shame or hesitation.
Want to know why so many Republicans don’t care about Trump’s ham-handed phone call with Ukraine’s president or his personal moral failings? Because he is an ally like no other in the fight to save innocent unborn lives.
Pro-life Americans sense that his pro-life record is one of the reasons Democrats have been searching for a pretext to impeach him. And they know a second Trump term would mean more conservatives justices on the Supreme Court, more conservatives on the federal appeals courts and more opportunities to rescue babies from the abortionist’s hand.
So, let the Democrats pursue their doomed impeachment circus in the Senate. As they do, something truly important is happening on Capitol Hill: An American president is finally marching in defense of human life.
Marc Thiessen writes a twice-weekly column for The Washington Post on foreign and domestic policy. He is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the former chief speechwriter for Pres. George W. Bush.
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