Vice President Mike Pence made history as the highest-ranking elected official to ever attend the annual March For Life in Washington, D.C. on Friday, addressing the gathered crowd by declaring, “Life is winning in America.”
“I’m deeply humbled to be the first Vice President of the United States to have the privilege to attend this historic event,” Pence, 57, said after an introduction from his wife, Karen.
Pence noted the election of “pro-life majorities in the Congress of the United States of America,” and stated that “this administration will work with the Congress to end taxpayer funding of abortion and abortion providers — and will devote those resources to healthcare services for women across America.”
The anti-abortion march has descended upon D.C. since the year after the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, and centers around the Washington Monument. Its mission, according to the March for Life website, “is to provide all Americans with a place to testify to the beauty of life and the dignity of each human person.”
“I’ve long believed that a society can be judged by how we care for our most vulnerable – the aged, the disabled, and the unborn,” Pence said on Friday. “We’ve come to a historic moment in the cause of life, and we must meet this moment with respect and compassion for every American.”
He encouraged participants to “let this movement be known for love, not anger” and for “compassion, not confontration.”
“We must continue to be a movement that embraces all, cares for all and shows respect for the dignity and worth for every person,” Pence said.
He also said that, next week, President Trump will “announce a Supreme Court nominee that will uphold the God-given liberties enshrined in our Constitution in the tradition of the late and great justice Antonin Scalia.”
Ahead of the rally, Trump wrote on Twitter, “The #MarchForLife is so important. To all of you marching — you have my full support!”
“@VP Mike Pence will be speaking at today’s #MarchForLife — You have our full support,” he added, just ahead of his meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May.
On Jan. 22, Trump reinstated a ban on providing federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide information on the option. The bill had most recently been rescinded by President Obama in 2009, after much back-and-forth since it was first instituted in 1984.
The policy also prohibits taxpayer funding for groups that lobby to legalize abortion or promote it as a family planning method.
Friday’s rally is in stark contrast to the movement that took over D.C. last Saturday, the Women’s March on Washington.
Hundreds of thousands of people participated in the Women’s March on Washington, the first full day of Trump’s presidency. Other large marches were held at the same time across the country and around the world.
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The heavy participation in the events has led to some crowd-size controversy, with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer accusing members of the media of “deliberately” deflating the number of people who attended the inauguration on Friday.
However, according to the D.C. Metro, ridership as of 4 p.m. on Inauguration Day was 597,000, while on the Saturday of the Women’s March, it was 1,001,616.
Crowd scientists further told The New York Times that the Women’s March on Washington drew three times as many people as Trump’s inauguration.
The WMATA told PEOPLE that ridership was at 237,000 as of 11 a.m. on the day of the March for Life, however, it should be noted that Friday was also a regular commuter day for the nation’s capital.