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Why Trump sees violent anti-abortion rhetoric as a way to cling to power

Donald Trump will become the first president to attend an anti-abortion rally and is being dubbed the ‘most pro-life president in history’. Here’s why. 

Donald Trump will become the first ever president to attend the annual anti-abortion rally March for Life, seeing him dubbed the ‘most pro-life president in history’.

On 17 January, the anniversary of Roe v Wade, the historic decision which legalised abortion in America, the president announced his attendance via Twitter. “See you on Friday… Big Crowd,” he wrote.

The day before this announcement, Trump declared that 21 January would be National Sanctity of Human Life Day to “strongly reaffirm our commitment to protect the precious gift of life at every stage, from conception to natural death”.

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March for Life president Jeanna Mancini has described the president and his administration as “consistent champions for life” and praised their “unwavering sport” for the rally. “He will be the first president to attend and we are so excited for him to experience in person how passionate our marchers are about life and protecting the unborn,” she says.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of anti abortion group Susan B Anthony List, says: “President Trump has governed as the most pro-life president in history. His presence at the world’s largest pro-life event signals a truly watershed moment for the Pro-Life Movement.”

Meanwhile Planned Parenthood Action, the political arm of the family planning non-profit organisation Planned Parenthood, says: “Since day one, the Trump-Pence administration has sought to undermine our access to health care, including safe and legal abortion.”

There’s no denying that things have got worse for women in America during the Trump-era.

In some states, women’s access to abortions has been restricted to a level not seen in decades. Alabama passed a near-total ban last year, including for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, unless the woman’s life is in danger.

In a matter of weeks, the Supreme Court will hear an appeal in Louisiana that could see almost every abortion clinic in the state close and the reversal of Roe v Wade, widely regarded as the last significant legal safeguard protecting women’s right to legal abortion in America.

The case in question will be the first time that justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh – both of whom were appointed by Trump – hear an abortion case as members of the court.

Despite having no clear affiliation with the pro-life movement beforehand, it’s clear that Trump has doubled-down on his anti-abortion stance since becoming president. But, why?

Many women and abortion activists have suggested his attendance at the rally could be a means to distracting attention away from his impeachment trial.

It is also possible, however, that this ‘pro-life president’ is reading the room. Trump knows that the support of evangelicals and pro-lifers is crucial to his base at a time when, given the polls show increasing numbers of Americans supporting impeachment, he needs it.

A pro-choice protest in the States

Donald Trump: American women’s right to abortion remains under threat

A recent survey by Pew Research showed that while the majority of Americans (61%) continue to say that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, the majority of evangelicals and right-wing conservatives think abortion should be illegal.

About three-quarters of white evangelical protestants (77%) think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. Likewise, Conservative Republicans and Republican leaners are far more likely to say abortion should be illegal (77%) than to say that it should be legal (22%), compared to the vast majority (91%) of liberal Democrats and Democrat leaners support legal abortion.

Trump’s violent anti-abortion is clearly an attempt to cling on to power – in other words, his political posturing is about as shady as that Ukrainian phone call. And yet, at what cost? American women are the ones paying by continuing to have their right to safe, legal abortion eroded piece-by-piece, state-by-state.

Let’s hope this time next year, Trump is marching as a private citizen.

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