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Trump tells rally 'America's abortion laws are wrong and must change'

Trump addressed the annual ‘march for life’ protest in Washington from the White House’s Rose Garden.

Trump Abortion Trump speaking earlier today in the Rose Garden at the White House Source: Evan Vucci/AP

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP has delivered new support to the anti-abortion movement he once opposed, telling thousands of activists demonstrating in the annual March for Life: “We are with you all the way.”

In an address broadcast from the White House Rose Garden, Trump said he’s committed to building “a society where life is celebrated, protected and cherished”.

He upped the ante by saying that abortions can be carried out to full term in some states.

“It is wrong and has to change,” he said.

You all come for one beautiful cause – to build a society where life is celebrated, protected and cherished.
You love every child, born and unborn, because you believe that every life is sacred, that every child is a precious gift from God.

The moment marked the president personally stepping to the forefront of the anti-abortion movement in the United States as the anniversary of his inauguration approaches.

Last year, Vice President Mike Pence addressed the crowd in Trump’s absence. In the year since, Trump has delivered on rules and policies he had promised in an effort to help curb abortion rights legalised 45 years ago.

Chief among them is the confirmation of conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Trump’s administration also today announced more actions in line with long-standing demands from social and religious conservatives.

March for Life Activists viewing Trump on a big screen at the National Mall in Washington Source: Andrew Harnik/AP

Religious scruples

The Department of Health and Human Services spelled out plans to protect medical providers who refuse to perform procedures such as abortions because of moral or religious scruples.

The department also pulled back on an Obama-era policy that posed a legal roadblock to conservative states trying to cut Medicaid funds for Planned Parenthood.

The announcements coincided with the annual March for Life on Washington by abortion opponents, with Trump addressing marchers via video link.

Vice President Mike Pence gave a preview last night when he told the marchers: “In one short year, President Donald Trump has made a difference for life.”

The Department of Health said it is proposing a new regulation that sets out how existing federal conscience protections will be enforced in real-world situations.

That follows an announcement yesterday of a new division in the Office for Civil Rights devoted to protecting the conscience rights of clinicians.

The new rule is “meant to ensure full compliance with laws that have been under-enforced,” said Roger Severino, a conservative lawyer who heads the rights office under Trump.

These provisions are standard stuff when it comes to civil rights enforcement.

Conscience rights

Under the regulation, hospitals, universities, clinics and other entities that receive funding from programmes like Medicare and Medicaid will have to certify that they comply with some 25 federal laws protecting conscience and religious rights.

Most of these laws address medical procedures such as abortion, sterilisation and assisted suicide. Violations could result in loss of federal funding.

Also today, the department took action that may help conservative states cut or eliminate Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood.

Donald Trump Source: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

The department rescinded guidance to states from President Barack Obama’s administration that narrowed the circumstances in which they can exclude a medical provider to cases involving fraud, criminal activity or being unfit to provide care.

However, states are still required to set “reasonable” standards in determining which medical providers can participate in their Medicaid programs. In addition to providing abortions, Planned Parenthood is a major source of routine medical care for women.

The action follows last year’s failure by congressional Republicans to defund Planned Parenthood.

“This will free up states to once again decide for themselves what reasonable standards may be appropriate,” said Charmaine Yoest, the top spokeswoman for the Department of Health and previously a prominent abortion opponent.

In a statement, Planned Parenthood vice president Dawn Laguens said, “They couldn’t get the votes to pass it in Congress, so now they are pushing states to try and block care at Planned Parenthood. The law is clear: it is illegal to bar women from seeking care at Planned Parenthood.”

Read: Pope Francis enrages Chile sex abuse victims as he accuses them of slander

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