Pence, pro-life groups celebrate Trump’s achievements as term nears end

Vice President Mike Pence led a White House celebration Wednesday of President Trump’s pro-life accomplishments, an event that acknowledged indirectly the president’s election defeat even as the attendees’ expressed optimism about ending abortion in the U.S.

Speaking to members of more than 20 pro-life advocacy groups, the vice president said Mr. Trump couldn’t have forged a record as “the most pro-life president in American history” without their help.

“You’ve stood for life for the past four years, and I promise you, we will never stop fighting for the right to life,” Mr. Pence said. “In the months and years ahead, we will see the sanctity of life restored to the center of American law in our time.”

Speaking in the past tense for a moment, Mr. Pence said of the administration’s achievements, “at the heart of that agenda was the cause of life.”

Tom McClusky, president of March for Life, praised the administration’s four-year record.

“This is truly your legacy going forward,” he told Mr. Pence. “That is now our job to carry on.”

Among the achievements cited were Mr. Trump’s appointment of more than 220 conservative federal judges, including three Supreme Court justices.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, agreed with the Mr. Pence that the sea change in the federal judiciary will bear fruit soon for the pro-life movement.

“We are talking about a [Supreme] Court that will possibly allow states to pass laws that reflect the will of the people of the states in which they live,” she told Mr. Pence. “And that means actual little boys and girls intended for this world — lives will be saved very soon. Life is winning in America because you and this president kept your promises from the very beginning.”

Mrs. Dannenfelser and Mr. McClusky presented Mr. Trump with a letter praising his achievements.

“Your presidency has been unprecedented in American history for its bold leadership in the protection of the unborn,” they told him.

The president didn’t attend the event. Some of his social media posts suggested that he watched portions of a televised Senate hearing on Wednesday that examined allegations of election fraud.

The pending inauguration of Democratic President-elect Joseph R. Biden threatens to reverse much of the administration’s pro-life efforts, such as Mr. Trump’s success in defunding Planned Parenthood. The group endorsed Mr. Biden, who wants to pass a federal law to enshrine the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling that found unduly restrictive state regulation of abortion was unconstitutional.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced Wednesday his department’s intent to withhold $200 million in Medicaid funding from California in the first quarter of 2021 for imposing universal abortion coverage mandates in health insurance policies. He said the administration will seek to withhold the same amount from the state “every quarter unless it complies,” a move that is certain to be reversed by Mr. Biden.

Mr. Biden also has pledged to rescind the “Mexico City” policy, which prevents any U.S. health funds from going to foreign organizations that provide or inform about abortions. And the Democrat has expressed support for repealing the Hyde Amendment, which forbids spending taxpayer dollars on abortions except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany spoke at the event about her emotion at seeing the first ultrasound picture of her unborn daughter, Blake, who is now 1 year old.

“We know today that babies are babies at the moment of conception — no excuses,” Ms. McEnany said. “It is not about a woman’s right to choose. It is about a human being’s right to live.”

She called Mr. Trump is “a president that supports moms, he’s a president that supports life.”

Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Claire Murray, who is pregnant, joked about her pregnancy as she reached the speaker’s podium to provide an update on the Justice Department’s actions.

“You sort of knew that we had to have at least one unborn baby at this gathering, so I thought I could serve that purpose,” she said to laughter.

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