Trump Just Told An Anti-Choice Crowd He’ll Veto Any Bill That Expands Abortion Rights

by Seth Millstein
Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Anti-abortion activists held their annual "March For Life" protest in Washington, D.C. on Friday, and although President Trump didn't appear in person, he did record a short, pre-recorded video that was shown at the event. In Trump's 2019 March For Life speech, the president pledged to veto any bill seeking to expand abortion rights, should such a bill land on his desk, and touted his administration's efforts to restrict abortion and contraception access.

"Today, I have signed a letter to Congress to make clear that if they send any legislation to my desk that weakens the protection of human life, I will issue a veto, and we have the support to uphold those vetos," Trump said in his video address.

The president also vowed to support Senate Republicans' efforts to make the Hyde Amendment, a short-term provision that bans federal funds from paying for abortions, permanent. However, a Senate bill to do just that was defeated the day before Trump's address aired, as Republican senators couldn't muster the votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster.

"Every child is a sacred gift from God," Trump said in the video. "As this year's March for Life theme says, each person is unique from day one. That's a very important phrase, 'unique from day one.' And so true."

In his video, Trump noted moves he's made to reduce not only abortion, but also contraceptive access. He referenced his administration's reinstatement of the so-called "Mexico City" policy, which prevents federally-funded NGOs from engaging in any activity that could be seen as promoting abortion, and touted the actions he's taken "to protect the religious freedom of doctors, nurses and charities, like the Little Sisters of the Poor."

That last reference was noteworthy. Trump's speech, and indeed the entire March For Life rally, was ostensibly about abortion — and yet the lawsuits regarding Little Sisters of the Poor have nothing to do with abortion.

The Catholic organization has been in court for years fighting Obamacare's contraceptive mandate, which requires that employers above a certain size provide contraceptive coverage to employees. The Little Sisters of the Poor asked to be exempted from this requirement, arguing that offering its workers health insurance plans that offer contraception would violate the group's religious beliefs. Those lawsuits are still ongoing, but the Trump administration has sided with the Little Sisters in their legal battle.

Regardless of how the Little Sisters' legal battle turns out, it's a battle against mandated contraceptive coverage, not abortion access. Nevertheless, the March for Life crowd roared wildly when Trump mentioned the Little Sisters on Friday.

Trump's speech on Friday was introduced by Vice President Mike Pence, who made a surprise in-person appearance at the rally. Pence described the anti-abortion movement as "a movement defined by compassion and love, a movement animated by faith and truth, and a movement that's been winning hearts and minds every day."

The March for Life speech comes just one day before the Women's March, a progressive anti-Trump movement, holds its third annual protest. The first Women's March was held in 2017 and, according to the Washington Post, was most likely the largest single-day protest in American history.