Anti-abortion activists gathered in Washington on Friday for the 44th March for Life, buoyed by President Donald Trump’s pledge to restrict the procedure and Vice President Mike Pence’s plan to address the marchers.
Organisers expect tens of thousands of supporters to converge on the National Mall for the march, which is held each year close to the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling that legalised abortion in 1973.
Vice President Mike Pence, a Republican and long-time hero of the anti-abortion movement, is due to be the most senior government official ever to speak in person at the rally, organizers said.
As Governor of Indiana, Pence signed what were seen as some of the nation’s strictest abortion laws.
Senior Trump aide Kellyanne Conway, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan and several Republican lawmakers also are scheduled to speak.
Rally participants will march from the Mall about 1.5 miles (2 km) to the Supreme Court.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the 2017 “Congress of Tomorrow’’ Joint Republican Issues Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on January 26, 2017.
The March for Life comes six days after Washington was flooded by hundreds of thousands of anti-Trump protesters, many of them backers of abortion rights.
That protest came a day after Trump was sworn in as president.
Trump has said Roe v. Wade should be overturned and has vowed to appoint an anti-abortion justice to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last year.
He also has pledged to defund Planned Parenthood, which draws the ire of many Republicans because it provides abortions, along with other services.
In a speech to Republican lawmakers at a retreat in Philadelphia on Thursday, Trump noted that on Monday he reinstated a national policy banning U.S. aid to non-governmental organisations abroad that provide or “promote” abortion.
Trump, who has frequently accused the media of underestimating the crowd at his inauguration, predicted the size of the crowd would be “300, 400, 500, 600,000 people.”