Trump to become first president to speak at annual anti-abortion March for Life event

Women yell cadences in support during a pro-life rally outside the Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Center on June 4, 2019
ST LOUIS, MO - JUNE 04: Women yell cadences in support during a pro-life rally outside the Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Center on June 4, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. The fate of Missouri's lone abortion clinic could be decided today in St. Louis Circuit Court after a restraining order prohibiting Missouri from letting the clinic's license lapse was granted last week. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Friday will become the first president to attend the March for Life when he speaks at the annual march and rally that gathers anti-abortion supporters from across the country in the nation’s capital.

The event will give Trump another opportunity to strengthen his ties to anti-abortion rights supporters, a key coalition of his political base in his 2020 reelection campaign. The Trump administration has consistently worked to regulate or restrict abortion access, appointed two justices seen as holding anti-abortion views and on Friday announced it will take legal action against California over the state’s mandate that insurers, including private health insurance policies, cover abortions.

The march aligns with the week of the 47th anniversary of Roe v. Wade this year, as per tradition, in an anti-abortion response to the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case that legalized abortion nationwide. The event was founded in 1974 by anti-abortion activist Nellie Gray, and typically attracts about 100,000 participants hailing from across the country. The plan is to continue the event until Roe is overturned, according to the march’s organizers.

Trump will be the first president to attend the march, according to March for Life President Jeanne Mancini, and a news release for the event said that Trump will speak at the event. Trump was also the first president to speak at the march via satellite feed when he addressed participants in 2018.

Trump regularly discusses the need to restrict abortion rights on the campaign trail and has taken numerous actions in office to do so.

Since taking office in 2017, Trump has reinstated a ban on US government funding for international non-governmental organizations that perform or promote abortions, appointed anti-abortion judges and opposed abortions later in pregnancy. The Department of Health and Human Services has also advanced multiple measures to regulate or restrict abortion access, some with the professed aim of protecting health care providers’ religious freedom, during his tenure.

The Trump campaign will also create another pro-life coalition going into the 2020 election, as it did in 2016, to be helmed again by anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, the group’s national spokeswoman announced on the eve of the march.

The Friday event — themed “Life Empowers: Pro-Life is Pro-Woman” — will feature a rally on the National Mall at noon followed by a march that concludes at the steps of the Supreme Court. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, and GOP Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey also are slated to speak at the march.

The march has enjoyed support from multiple Republican administrations in the past and Trump’s has been no different. In 2017, Vice President Mike Pence and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway both spoke at the event, with the vice president doing so again in 2019. Former presidents have made telephone calls in to the march, with both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush addressing the event via phone.

Trump’s expected attendance at the march comes on the heels of his return from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and as the Senate impeachment trial into his conduct regarding Ukraine is underway.

CNN’s Jacqueline Howard contributed to this report.