Vice President Mike Pence at anti-abortion March for Life: "Life is winning"

Vice President Mike Pence at anti-abortion March for Life: "Life is winning"
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

In the first address by a sitting vice president to the annual anti-abortion March for Life, Mike Pence on Friday told cheering crowds that "life is winning again."

"Life is winning through the quiet counsels between mothers and daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters, between friends across kitchen tables and over coffee at college campuses," the deeply conservative Pence told crowds who greeted him with chants of "U.S.A.!"

Pence said the Trump administration would move to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia with a similarly conservative jurist and work with Congress to "end taxpayer funding for abortion and abortion providers," redirecting those funds "to health care services for women across America."

The former Indiana governor and congressman, a long-standing opponent of abortion who has described himself as "a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order," reprised some of his signature lines during the rally address. This included his contention that "society can be judged by how we care for our most vulnerable — the aged, the infirm, the disabled and the unborn."

"The truth is being told. Compassion is overcoming convenience and hope is defeating despair," said Pence.

At the same time, Pence — possibly in an oblique reference to last weekend's massive, non-violent Women's March on Washington — urged his listeners to pursue their convictions peacefully: "As it is written, let your gentleness be evident to all. Let this movement be known for love, not anger."

Before joining Trump at the White House, Pence was known for his staunch opposition to abortion.

As a congressman, he once said he longed "for the day that Roe v. Wade is sent to the ash heap of history." As Indiana governor, he pushed to block federal funding of Planned Parenthood and signed a law blocking women from getting abortions because of fetal abnormalities. 

Trump, who was meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, offered his support to March for Life attendees via Twitter.

For all Trump's promises to nominate a conservative to fill the Scalia vacancy on the high court, the record shows he wasn't always a hard-liner when it came to reproductive rights. He has said in past interviews that he considered himself "very pro-choice," as is shown in the 1999 clip below.

During his bid for the GOP presidential nomination, Trump went as far as to say he believed there should be "some form" of punishment for people who get abortions, although he quickly backpedaled to say only providers who performed the procedure should be sanctioned.

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Celeste Katz

Celeste Katz is senior political correspondent at Mic, covering national politics. She is based in New York and can be reached at celeste@mic.com.

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