As President Donald Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to attend the annual March for Life on Friday, reproductive rights advocates countered his anti-choice message on social media with the hashtag #MarchForLies, sharing accurate information about reproductive health and slamming Trump for his attacks on women.
Trump's in-person attendance at a rally that presidents have previously only addressed via video was the latest signal that the president is committed to ending safe and legal access to abortion care for American women, said pro-choice advocates.
"People who have an abortion deserve compassion and to have access to the best healthcare available—not to be stigmatized and villainized by the president of the United States."
—Alexis McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood Action Fund"We didn't need any more confirmation that the sitting president of the United States is dead-set on doing all he can to end access to safe, legal abortion in this country," said Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. "Since day one, this administration has carried out a full-out assault on our health and our rights."
Pro-choice advocates quickly debunked Trump's claim at the rally that Democrats are pushing an unpopular, extreme agenda when they fight to protect Roe vs. Wade and combat state-level laws restricting abortion access.
"When it comes to abortion...Democrats have embraced the most radical and extreme positions," the president said.
In fact, like the vast majority of Democratic lawmakers, more than three-quarters of Americans want to keep Roe vs. Wade in place.
Meanwhile, more than 200 Republican legislators this month signed an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider the landmark decision, which affirmed in 1973 that women have the constitutional right to abortion care. Extreme abortion bans like those passed by the GOP in Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio since Trump took office have proven unpopular.
Trump and other anti-choice politicians "resort to disinformation to promote their dangerous agenda," tweeted NARAL Pro-Choice America.
The anti-choice agenda is *deeply* unpopular. So they resort to disinformation to promote their dangerous agenda. It’s not just harmful to our reproductive health—it’s drastically out of touch with the majority of Americans who support legal abortion. #MarchforLies
— NARAL (@NARAL) January 24, 2020
70% of Americans don’t want to see Roe v. Wade overturned.
— Megan (@writermegan) January 24, 2020
President Trump continues to spout misinformation about abortion to shame people seeking abortion.
News for you, @potus: abortion is health care.
— Planned Parenthood Action (@PPact) January 24, 2020
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Among the lies Trump repeated at the rally was that pro-choice advocates favor infanticide, which he referenced in an attack on Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia.
"What is going on, Virginia?" Trump said. "The governor stated that he would execute a baby after birth."
The president was referring to Northam's support for abortion care after 21 weeks of pregnancy, which make up about 1.3% of all abortions and usually take place due to life-threatening health conditions for the fetus or the pregnant patient.
"There is no such thing as infanticide in medical care and you know it," McGill Johnson tweeted. "The nation sees right through you."
There is no such thing as infanticide in medical care and you know it, @POTUS. You are capitalizing on misinformation in order to shame people for seeking abortion and that is disgraceful.
The nation sees right through you. #MarchForLies
— Alexis McGill Johnson (@alexismcgill) January 24, 2020
"President Trump's decision to attend the March for Life signals a clear endorsement of the lies, harassment, and threats that come from the anti-abortion movement," said Rev. Katherine Ragsdale, president of the National Abortion Federation (NAF). "Demonizing healthcare providers and women who rely on them for abortion care has become one of Trump's go-to pivots. This dangerous rhetoric has very real consequences."
Planned Parenthood issued a reminder that safe and legal abortion is part of healthcare and that "nearly one in four women will have an abortion in her lifetime."
"People who have an abortion deserve compassion and to have access to the best healthcare available—not to be stigmatized and villainized by the president of the United States," said McGill Johnson.
Trump's appearance at the March for Life came a day after more than 40 GOP lawmakers attacked international abortion access by calling for an expansion on the "global gag rule," and followed a statement by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar that his agency should be called the "Department of Life."
Azar's statement was "really rich for an agency that was a primary architect of putting children in cages on the border," tweeted Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL.
Good morning. While you were sleeping, Sec. Azar seems to have renamed the Department of Health and Human Services the "Department of Life," which is really rich for an agency that was a primary architect of putting children in cages on the border. There is no bottom. pic.twitter.com/SoN4PuPC87
— ilyse hogue (@ilyseh) January 24, 2020
"This is just another in a long line of dark and dystopian moves from Donald Trump and the anti-choice movement attacking our reproductive freedoms," said Hogue in a statement. "There is no limit to the depths Trump will sink to in order to attack women and score political points with his fringe, radical base... And women and families will pay the price."