President Trump became the first sitting president to address the March for Life on Friday, reminding those in attendance that ending legal abortion will remain priorities for him throughout his administration.
At the rally — one of the largest antiabortion gatherings in the country, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) credited God for Trump’s election, saying: “Can we just thank God for giving us a pro-life president back in the White House?”
But recent polling continues to show that most Americans are at odds with the latest Oval Office occupant on the issue of abortion.
Most Americans — 58 percent — believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to the Pew Research Center.
And even a few of the groups that backed Trump support abortion remaining legal.
Most moderate and liberal Republicans --- 54 percent — want abortion to be legal in all or most cases. Nearly 6 in 10 -- 58 percent -- of white voters support abortion remaining legal in most or all cases. And most Americans over 50 support keeping abortion legal, according to the poll.
However, one of the groups that supports Trump most — white evangelicals — is significantly less supportive of abortion rights. Seven in 10 white evangelicals think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.
It is these Americans that perhaps Trump thinks of most when making policy decisions such as re-implementing and expanding the “Mexico City Policy,” which blocks funding international aid programs that “perform or promote” abortion, and appointing conservative, antiabortion judges including Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch.
Just last week, the Trump administration established an office to support medical professionals who do not want to perform abortions because of their moral and religious convictions.
“In my administration, we will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independence, and that is the right to life,” the president said Friday.
It is these pledges that resonated with many voters on the campaign trail and that helped Trump secure 80 percent of the white evangelical vote, despite previously voicing mixed positions on the issue.
Yet a year into his presidency, other campaign pledges Trump made related to abortion have yet to materialize.
Congress has not passed a federal ban on abortions occurring after 20 weeks and did not cut off Planned Parenthood’s federal funding. And Trump has not written into permanent law the Hyde Amendment, which would ban most federal abortion funding but needs annual renewal.
It is early in the president's administration, and the past 12 months have shown that those who boarded the Trump train are more than willing to give the president significant time to fulfill his campaign promises. But he does so facing significant opposition from Americans who view the right to abortion as a fundamental right.
“Today, we salute the abortion providers who care for patients exercising their right to control their own bodies, enshrined in the Constitution on January 22, 1973. Proud — as always — of the work our staff and clinicians do.
#RoevWade,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards tweeted.
And NARAL Pro-Choice America had #7in10forRoe trending all day Monday with individuals sharing why they support abortion rights for women.
Feminist writer Evette Dionne tweeted that the political conversation about abortion is closely tied to issues about class and race.
“I am one of the
#7in10forRoe because I recognize that political attacks on abortion are intimately connected to lack of access to contraception, sex education, and government assistance. It is a means of shaming the poor, particularly poor women of color. We will not go back.”
And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a statement attacking Republicans' efforts to end abortion.
“Over the last several years, the rights protected by Roe v. Wade have been under assault by Congressional Republicans. Republicans have waged war on a woman’s fundamental right to choose and have attempted to insert themselves into the most personal and private health decisions. Last year, and just this weekend, millions of women around the country marched in solidarity to remind Republicans that we will not be silenced and we will not allow our rights or the progress we have made to be ripped away.”
Nearly half a century after the historic Supreme Court decision, the political climate proves that the culture battle over abortion is not over. With Republicans controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress, many conservative voters will put increased pressure on their representatives to end legal abortion. And liberal Americans who view women having the right to make decisions about their own bodies under attack are likely to continue the conversation about related issues raised at this past weekend's women's march.
But much attention should be paid to next generation of voters.
While the Pew poll states that 65 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, a growing number of young Americans have become more vocal about their opposition to abortion.
“We are there every day on the campuses. Right where the culture is formed. Right where those future voters are being created, and we’re changing their minds about abortion,” Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life, told the Christian Broadcasting Network.