Wake County

Many optimistic for shifting abortion policy during Trump presidency at March for Life event

Pro-life protesters start their march from the plaza next to the Legislative Building in Raleigh, NC on Jan. 21, 2017.
Pro-life protesters start their march from the plaza next to the Legislative Building in Raleigh, NC on Jan. 21, 2017. ccioffi@newsobserver.com

Across downtown Raleigh from raucous crowds voicing opposition to the inauguration of President Donald Trump, a group hopeful that the Republican will shift abortion policy also gathered Saturday.

The March for Life attracted more than 1,000 people who held signs saying things like “We Vote Pro-Life” and marched on city streets near the legislative buildings. The day also featured speeches and prayers organized by anti-abortion group North Carolina Right to Life in Bicentennial Plaza, and a youth rally and mass sponsored by Raleigh’s Roman Catholic diocese.

One of the speakers, Carol Tobias, 56, expressed optimism about a change in abortion policies under the new Trump administration.

After eight years of “the most pro-abortion president we’ve ever had,” there is renewed hope in outlawing abortions. The president of the District of Columbia-based National Right to Life Committee also spoke in opposition of assisted suicide for terminally ill patients.

“I really think these next couple of years will be extremely productive and exciting,” she told the crowd.

Fuquay-Varina resident Teresa Cornett, said that she was also hopeful for the Trump administration to make a change in policies that would end abortions in the United States.

Cornett, 59, said that Trump’s stance on the abortion issue was one of the main reasons she voted for him.

“You have to protect all life from the beginning until death,” she said. “That’s what God wants.”

The event was held Saturday to acknowledge the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide Jan. 22, 1973, and Tobias noted that abortion rates are down across the country. The drop in abortions was evidence that women were choosing life over abortions for their babies.

A report recent by the Guttmacher Institute found that though abortion rates are down across the U.S., North Carolina saw a small increase in from 2011 to 2014, despite a declining number of facilities that perform abortions.

Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, said the president has made promises on his campaign that aim at what he called a “culture of life.”

During the campaign Trump suggested during his presidency he would defund Planned Parenthood, a major supplier of contraceptives, and appoint a Supreme Court Justice that would be anti-abortion.

Creech, 59, said that constitutional principals were meant to protect life, liberty and property, but life is the most important of all rights.

“If the government doesn’t protect your life then no other right is safe, and currently life is not protected when at its most vulnerable,” he said.

Before the March for Life’s speeches and march began in early afternoon, about 1,200 youth and adults from across the Diocese of Raleigh that stretches from the coast to near Burlington, attended a morning mass and rally.

Patrick Foley, 13, and his friend Lucas Simoni, 12, both from Raleigh, said they enjoyed hearing from speakers and felt that the event put a spotlight on an issue that not enough people talk about.

“There’s so many people here today, and it’s so nice to see each other,” Lucas said. “It gives you confidence, and with that confidence it gives you the strength to win and stop abortions.”

Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi