WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump addressed thousands of protesters by video during the annual March for Life on the National Mall Friday.
“We are protecting the sanctity of life and the family as the foundation of our society,” Trump said, calling the marchers “a truly remarkable group.”
Trump becomes the first president to address the gathering by video in its 45-year history, organizers said. Last year, Vice President Mike Pence spoke in Trump’s absence.
“I think it’s very powerful and that speaks to what America is moving toward, hopefully,” said Olivia Samper, who came to the nation’s capital with a group from Florida State University.
Many of the marchers described Trump’s video address as the day’s highlight.
“I think it makes a huge statement as to what he believes and what he’s gonna work for,” said Johanna Hager of Newtown, Pennsylvania.
Participants gathered on the National Mall at 12th Street for an hourlong rally before marching up Constitution Avenue to the U.S. Supreme Court and Capitol.
“We’re here just to peacefully stand up for something believe in….. for those unborn children,” said Ben Peterson from Michigan.
More than 50,000 people were expected to take part in the event, marking the anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Roe V. Wade, which legalized abortion.
“I’m hoping that this will help and turn this culture around to the right way,” said Terri Hardgrave from Annapolis, Maryland.
Counterprotesters were expected to greet the marchers outside the high court’s building. Abortion-rights leaders are expected to play major roles in many of the women’s marches also planned around the country this weekend. A March on the Polls is planned for Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.