Donald Trump made a deal with the pro-life lobby during the election. He bought their votes with a promise and they delivered at the polls. Now on Friday, and for the first time ever, the president will address the national March for Life by satellite to show their return on investment.
The dividends are numerous. He appointed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. He rolled back Obamacare's contraception mandate. He not only reinstated but expanded the Mexico City policy prohibiting federal money from funding abortion abroad. At one point, he even offered to permanently bankroll Planned Parenthood if that corporation committed to never perform abortions again (they declined).
Pointing to those accomplishments, the group Operation Rescue named Trump their “pro-life person of the year.” But while a significant achievement, that’s an understatement.
Barring a change of heart in the next three years, Trump won’t just be the most pro-life person of 2017 — he will be the most pro-life president ever.
And that fact can’t be understated. Though tremendously flexible on his other campaign promises, Trump hasn’t moved an inch on abortion, and that’s genuinely surprising.
While Trump the president seems ever more flippant, Trump the candidate was actually pretty calculating on the campaign trail. When the rest of the Republican primary field quickly condemned the baby organ sales racket, he waited more than a week to express calculated outrage. And at the time that seemed normal because Trump still seemed like a political con-man.
Trump was for abortion on demand before being against it and then ever so slightly. He was haunted on the campaign trail by a "Meet the Press" interview where he tiptoed around the issue of partial birth abortion before telling Tim Russert that he “still just believes in choice.” He struggled to explain the fat checks he sent to pro-choice Democrat politicians like Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi. And he failed to articulate a clear pro-life position.
But that all changed during the third presidential debate. After Hillary Clinton danced around the issue of late-term abortion with carefully crafted talking points, Trump’s opinion came full-term. “If you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month, you can rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby,” Trump said.
“Now, Hillary can say that that's OK. But it's not OK with me, because based on what she's saying, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month on the final day. And that's not acceptable,” Trump continued.
It was brutal and it was blunt and it was the most succinct and successful articulation of pro-life principles in presidential politics. Three weeks later, Trump beat Clinton with the overwhelming help of the religious Right. He carried the Protestant vote, won the Mormon vote, and became the first Republican since 2004 to secure the Catholic vote.
One year into the Trump presidency, it’s clear they got their money’s worth.