January 22, 2009
March for Life Targets Obama
Washington -- Abortion opponents had the luxury of having a president on their side for eight years in a row. That changed two days ago.
President Obama was a major theme during today's March for Life, where tens of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall and made their way to the Supreme Court on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Several participants held signs with references to President Obama, like "The audacity of hope: overturn Roe." One sign called for the Catholic church to excommunicate pro-abortion candidates, and several of the signs advocated for people to fight the Freedom of Choice Act.
Congressman Mike Pence (R-Ind.), the new house Republican Conference Chairman, was one of the first speakers at the rally. The event is annual, but this year is different. Pence, an outspoken Christian, said that the challenge this year was to encourage abortion opponents who may be discouraged about recent elections. Here was more of our conversation today:
Does a new administration change the significance of the March for Life?
I think so, although as I said today, the abortion movement seems to be gathering strength in Washington D.C., life is winning in America. As I said from the podium every day, every hour, compassion is overcoming convenience, life is defeating despair and hope is defeating a lifetime of regret.
The march comes off of the inauguration. Does that make a difference?
I think it does. I’ve spoken at eight previous marches for life. This is my ninth, and in all of the previous eight, we’ve been celebrating pro-life victories in the ballot box, either for the presidency or for Congress. But in the recent years, now the challenge is to encourage people who may be discouraged by the outcome of recent congressional elections and the presidential election. What I sought to do from the podium is to assure people that the men and women who are gathered there and the pro-life minority in congress will continue to labor on behalf of the sanctity of life.
We will continue to fight to oppose any effort to use taxpayer dollars to promote abortion at home or abroad. I said we are going to defend Ronald Reagan’s Mexico City policy, and I introduced legislation that would deny federal funding to any Planned Parenthood of America. The largest abortion provider in America should not be the largest recipient of federal funding under Title X.
The Mexico City Policy would be an executive order that would rescind in effect the prohibition of foreign aid going to organizations that promote or perform abortions. That would be profoundly disappointing to millions of American taxpayers, including many pro-choice Americans who still don’t think we should be using tax dollars to subsidize abortions.
Do you think Obama will push for The Freedom of Choice Act?
We think it’s a very real possibility. I take President Obama at his word and in the middle of his last campaign he said it was his desire to sign the Freedom of Choice act as one of his first official acts. So we’re prepared to take the battle to the American people.
Do you predict Obama's presidency could galvanize the pro-life movement or be more discouraging?
If anything, the fact that we’ve had a pro-life president the last eight years and for most of that time had pro-life majorities in Congress has probably bred a certain amount of complacency. But now, with expanded abortion rights majorities in Congress and the most pro-abortion president in America’s history in the White House, I believe it will galvanize millions of pro-life Americans to become politically active and turn the tide for life.
How does this march compare to previous marches?
The crowd was immense. The thing I’m most proud of is that Congressman Chris Smith told me moments ago there was the largest turnout of House Republicans in his memory. We had roughly 20 members of the House of Representatives there today. I expect he’s made about 36 of these marches in his life, so that was a great encouragement to me.
Obama has talked about reducing number of unintended pregnancies.
Well we heard the language of safe, legal, and rare during the 1990s from a president who rescinded the Mexico City policy and oversaw a pro-abortion administration. We’ll take a wait and see approach. We hope President Obama will pursue policy that will mitigate abortion, but we’ll remain determined that the only way forward is to elect a pro-life majority to the House and the Senate, elect a pro-life president and send Roe v. Wade to the ash-heap of history where it belongs.
Photo courtesy of Mike Pence's office.