Trump, Pence address March for Life, vow to support opponents of abortion rights

The president promises to veto legislation that "weakens the protection of human life" at Friday's rally.

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By Linda Givetash

President Donald Trump addressed anti-abortion protesters in Washington, and vowed to veto legislation that "weakens the protection of human life."

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence attended the annual March for Life led by opponents of abortion rights in Washington on Friday. It took place a day ahead of the Women's March that has been marred by controversy.

The president didn't attend in person but spoke to the crowd via video.

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"This is a movement founded on love and grounded in the nobility and dignity of every human life," he said. "As president, I will always defend the first right in our Declaration of Independence, the right to life."

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have been highlighting the abortion issue leading up to the march.

Some Democrats in the House reiterated their support for ending the Hyde Act which bans Medicaid funding for abortion services.

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen acknowledge the audience at the 2019 March for Life dinner in Washington.Cliff Owen / AP

Meanwhile, Trump said he would support efforts that have so far failed in the Republican-led Senate to permanently prohibit taxpayer funding for abortion.

Trump also listed efforts the administration has taken over the past two years to deter abortions, including the blocking of foreign aid to organizations that promote abortions.

Pence credited the president for nominating conservative judges to the federal bench during his address.

Pence was clear in his support for the marchers, calling their plight one of "compassion."

"We gather here because we believe as our founders did that we are, all of us, born and unborn, endowed by our creator, with certain unalienable rights and first among these rights is the right to life," Pence said.

The march first began in January 1974, a year after the Supreme Court released its verdict in Roe v. Wade.

The Women's March, in contrast, has previously been supported by abortion organizations including NARAL Pro-Choice America, but amid controversy over anti-Semitism allegations, NARAL and other groups are no longer supporting Saturday's event.

Associated Press contributed.