By Jonathon Van Maren
On December 16, Vice President Mike Pence hosted a White House event dubbed “Life is Winning: Celebrating Four Years of Pro-Life Accomplishments” to reflect on an extraordinarily successful presidential term for the pro-life movement. Representatives of more than twenty pro-life groups attended, along with many Trump officials. Pence laid out the pro-life policies that the administration had successfully enacted and promised those present that his own advocacy was just beginning. “You’ve stood for life for the past four years, and I promise you, we will never stop fighting for the right to life,” Pence stated emotionally. “In the months and years ahead, we will see the sanctity of life restored to the center of American law in our time.”
Those accomplishments, spearheaded by the very pro-life leaders and Trump Administration officials gathered to take stock, are impressive. Three Supreme Court justices; more than 220 conservative appointments to the federal judiciary; unprecedented cuts in funding to the abortion industry; unprecedented access to the Administration for pro-life leaders. A succession of high-profile officials, including the president himself, showed up at the March for Life to offer affirmation of the movement’s life-saving work. Many pro-life leaders gambled that a transactional relationship with a president willing to cut deals with them would bear fruit. They accomplished more than they could have imagined.
But while Trump is consistently referred to by Pence as “the most pro-life president in American history,” the vice president is being far too modest. Pence himself was the driving force behind the Trump Administration’s pro-life policies, and he and other pro-life stalwarts on the Trump team utilized a largely chaotic presidency to accomplish an enormous amount for the anti-abortion cause. Trump, happily, was willing to be an enabler. But why is it that this president was willing to acknowledge and prioritize the agenda of the pro-life movement more than previous GOP presidents—more even than Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush?