WASHINGTON — The Renaissance Hotel — the official hotel for March for Life participants to gather in Washington, D.C. — was buzzing with excitement Thursday.
Thousands of people were meeting for events ahead of Friday’s anti-abortion March for Life. It’s the 44th year of the march, but this time, many attendees said, is the first in nearly a decade they feel their voices will be heard — and that's because of President Trump and Vice President Pence.
“With the administration that has promised pro-life policies being enacted there’s just a lot of hope and a lot of enthusiasm,” Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, told USA TODAY.
Photos: March for Life 2017
“It sure does,” feel different under Trump than previous marches when Barack Obama was president, Mancini said. Obama was a supporter of abortion rights and threatened to veto any legislation that would curb them.
“We’ve seen one executive order after the other really not protecting the inherent dignity of the human person from conception to natural death. It’s a breath of relief, a breath fresh air, for us to now have people who are wanting to forward pro-life policies,” Mancini continued.
The new administration has made clear that they are anti-abortion. One of the first executive orders Trump signed was to prohibit U.S. aid from going to international organizations that promote abortion. Trump has also repeatedly vowed that whomever he chooses to fill the vacant position on the Supreme Court will be pro-life.
And or the first time in the march's history, the vice president will speak. Pence announced Thursday he'd be speaking; senior adviser Kellyanne Conway is set to address the crowd as well.
“I think Trump’s made it very clear that he’s somebody who considers himself pro-life, even if he didn’t always,” Ashley McGuire, a senior fellow with the Catholic Association, told USA TODAY.
“By signing the Mexico City executive order, you know having that be one of the first things his administration did, was another very strong signal to the pro-life community that he intends to make good on what he said to us on those issues,” she said.
“I think that pro-lifers feel like maybe we have a voice at the federal level — there’s that hope that we will have that voice. Before, there was no hope,” said Abby Johnson, founder of And Then There Were None, which is an organization that works to get workers out of abortion-related jobs. Before she became an anti-abortion activist, Johnson was a Planned Parenthood clinic director.
The march will begin with an hourlong rally at the Washington Monument, with several Republican lawmakers on the schedule.
Following the rally, marchers will walk the roughly two miles between the monument to the Supreme Court and U.S. Capitol. Then marchers will move to the House and Senate buildings to visit their lawmakers.
Trump said in an interview with ABC that aired Wednesday he “was told you will have a very large crowd of people" at the March for Life. "I don’t know as large or larger, some people said it’s gonna be larger” than last week’s Women’s March, Trump said.
Last weekend, huge crowds gathered in cities around the world for the first-ever Women’s March, which was organized in response to Trump’s election. While people marched for a whole slew of reasons — equal pay, climate change, racial equality, LGBT equality, among them — many attendees were there to support Planned Parenthood and abortion rights.
In Washington alone, there were an estimated 500,000 marchers. One anti-abortion group told USA TODAY that he was rejected from cosponsoring the event after the Women’s March announced it supported abortion rights. The march organizers could not be reached to confirm the account.