On January 22, 1973, Americans woke up to a different republic. At the will of seven unelected justices, Roe v. Wade made dramatically expanded abortion access both the policy and the law for our entire country. The opinion was an alarm bell, a warning that the moral dimension of our country had been irrevocably altered and would continue to change unless something stopped it. Speaking conservatively, 61 million babies have since been killed under this regime.
Every year since, pro-life Americans have come to Washington to express their hope and defiance at the March for Life. Two generations of pro-lifers have bent the arc of their lives toward undoing the injustice of abortion. I’m proud to be among them and to work for the most pro-life president in history. As pro-lifers gather in Washington once again in the fourth year of the president’s first term, it is worth taking stock of how President Trump has advanced the cause of life.
By any fair reckoning, we are in a golden chapter for our movement. President Trump has pushed the boundaries of the art of the possible further than ever. His appointment of constitutionally faithful jurists — 187 federal judges, including two associate justices of the Supreme Court, for overall over a fifth of all federal judgeships — will arrest the Left’s hold on the courts. One in four federal circuit court judges today have been appointed by President Trump.
Within weeks of taking office, President Trump did not just reinstate the Mexico City Policy to stop foreign aid from subsidizing organizations that perform abortions; he went even further, applying the policy to more funding streams and more foreign aid activities than has any other president. Last September, at the opening of the 74th United Nations General Assembly, he announced, “Global bureaucrats have no business attacking the sovereignty of nations that wish to protect innocent life,” making it clear to the world that our support for the sanctity of life doesn’t stop at the water’s edge.
President Trump prohibited Title X grantees from referring patients for elective abortions and prevented their physical co-location with abortion providers. As a result, Planned Parenthood quit the program, cutting off its access to hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funding. He issued a robust conscience rule in order to ensure, among other things, that those who care for us when we are ill are not forced to perform or encourage abortion. Moreover, the president has just finalized a rule to stop insurers from quietly billing taxpayers for abortion services, ending an Obamacare loophole that left pro-life taxpayers unwitting accomplices to the violation of their conscience. He has also restricted the use of fetal tissue from elective abortions in government-funded medical research.
But the battle is not over. Policies like the Hyde Amendment, a bipartisan provision that has prevented federal funds from paying for abortion for more than four decades, are now suddenly under unprecedented attack. In the yearly funding process, we fought off attempts to overturn our administrative successes, and it was only through the president’s staunch opposition and the unwavering work of the life movement that we prevailed.
The urgency of our labors is often informed by the texture of our own lives. My daughter, Porter, suffers from cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that shortens lives and requires expensive care. According to a Kaiser Permanente report, 87% of babies diagnosed with cystic fibrosis before birth are tragically aborted. These children are robbed of their lives and their parents miss out on the daily joy of loving their children, as we gratefully experience every day with Porter. Her life is a battle, but it is a glorious one, just like any other child growing up. So it is with our movement.
There is much work to be done to protect these gains and pursue others. President Trump will keep fighting in the months and years ahead for the cause of life and freedom for all Americans. And I am heartened to know that the president’s efforts will be joined by the hundreds of thousands of Americans from all walks of life who come each year in the cold to stand up and fight for our nation’s most vulnerable individuals, the unborn.
Russ Vought is acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Follow him on Twitter: @RussVought45.