Mike Pence will be the highest-ranking White House official ever to attend the anti-choice event, and he’ll be joined by Kellyanne Conway.
MANDEL NGAN / Getty Images
Today, Vice President and noted uterine legislator Mike Pence will become the highest-ranking White House official ever to speak at the annual March for Life rally in Washington, DC since it began in 1974. President Donald Trump's senior counselor Kellyanne Conway will also address participants on the National Mall and it was thought that Trump himself would call in to the rally, but CNN reports that he will not do so.
Still, it's an unprecedented show of support for the march, which is tied to the anniversary of Roe v Wade case, the Supreme Court case that affirmed women's constitutional right to abortion before fetal viability 44 years ago this past Monday. March for Life organizers told the Washington Post that no president or vice president has spoken at the march before, although President Ronald Reagan made a video for the event in 1988 and President George W. Bush called in to the march in 2008.
Pence, a self described "evangelical Catholic," has long been a foe of reproductive rights, but the timing of the Vice President's historic appearance feels more than a little symbolic as the Trump/Pence administration seeks to reassure anti-choice activists that it's on their side. On Monday, Trump reinstated the so-called Global Gag Rule, which blocks international groups that provide abortion from receiving US aid. (The Helms Amendment already prohibits federal money from being used for abortions; this rule means that groups cannot receive funding toward other health services they provide, like contraceptive counseling and HIV testing and treatment.)
And next week, Trump is expected to announce his nominee for the Supreme Court; he promised in a letter to anti-choice groups in September that he would appoint pro-life justices. In the same letter, he pledged to defund Planned Parenthood, make the discriminatory Hyde Amendment permanent law, and sign a nationwide 20-week abortion ban. Congress has already started work on the first two of those items.
Update, 1/27/16: A previous version of this story said that President Trump would call in to the rally. It has been changed to reflect that he will not do so.