Nation

Thousands march in Washington at annual anti-abortion rally

Anti-abortion activists protest outside of the U.S. Supreme Court, during the March for Life in Washington Friday, Jan. 18, 2019.
Jose Luis Magana/AP
Anti-abortion activists protest outside of the U.S. Supreme Court, during the March for Life in Washington Friday, Jan. 18, 2019.

WASHINGTON — Antiabortion demonstrators descended on the National Mall in Washington on Friday for an annual rally, a day after Republicans in the Senate were slowed in their efforts to advance a ban on federal abortion funds.

Organizers had pledged to go on with the event, called the March for Life, in a capital full of shuttered federal agencies because of a partial government shutdown.

While thousands of demonstrators marched and cheered on guest speakers, the climate in Washington this year was not the same as a year ago, when President Trump hosted some of the marchers in the Rose Garden after having just broadened religious freedom protections for health care providers who were opposed to performing abortions and gender reassignment surgery.

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This year, Trump addressed the crowd in a prerecorded message and said he had sent a letter to Congress notifying lawmakers that he would veto any legislation that “weakens the protection of human life.”

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Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, made a surprise stop at the rally Friday. Mike Pence, who was scheduled to speak at the organization’s annual dinner that evening, told demonstrators to remain strong.

New York Times