At March for Life, pro-life protesters ask for second shutdown over Planned Parenthood – Washington Examiner

Thousands descended on a crippled capital city Friday for the annual March for Life. The ones sticking around for the weekend won’t be able to tour the museums, see the Declaration of Independence, or walk through the White House. The government is shut down.

But they don’t seem to mind. Pointing to his policies and especially to his judges, the pro-life marchers overwhelmingly support President Trump. Most support the shutdown too. Some just wish it was for different reasons.

Trump promised to build the wall. Trump also promised to stop taxpayer dollars from flowing to Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion corporation in the U.S. He has kept the government shut down in an effort to honor the first promise.

“Why is all the emphasis on the border?” asks Lila Rose, the president of Live Action. “We should build a wall between taxpayer funds and the biggest abortion company that’s killing 900 children a day.”

Forcing a shutdown over Planned Parenthood isn’t just conjecture. It’s an idea first floated by Vice President Mike Pence. Is he willing to let the government go dark over Planned Parenthood funding? “Well, of course I am.” That’s what he said back when he was just a congressional rabble-rouser from Indiana. It was 2011 and Pence was holding up the entire budget over the issue.

“I think there’s a broad consensus in this country,” Pence told MSNBC’s Willie Geist, “regardless of where you stand on the subject of abortion, there’s a broad consensus for decades now opposing public funding of abortion and abortion providers.”

A college freshman from Minnesota, milling about before the march, in the cappuccino-colored snow of the National Mall, carries a sign that says “Hey Planned Parenthood! Go fund yourself!” Her name is AliJoe Nicolai and she agrees. She says she was an unplanned pregnancy, her birth mother gave her up for adoption, and she wishes Pence and Trump would shut down the government over Planned Parenthood.

“It’s just unbelievable,” Nicolai says of the fact that Republicans didn’t cut funding when they controlled the House, the Senate, and the presidency. “Let’s shut it down as long as we need to figure this out.”

Two baby boomers nearby pose for a picture with a snowman holding a sign that reads, “I am the pro-life generation.” They also agree.

“Build the wall for sure,” says May Chopaigne, a nurse from New Orleans. “And try to end funding for Planned Parenthood afterward,” interrupts her older brother John Tosh, a trauma surgeon also from the Big Easy.

The two compare the president to Cyrus the Great, that ancient Persian king who freed the Israelites from the Babylonian captivity. They scheduled the trip to D.C. months ago for the march and had planned to tour the different Smithsonian museums afterward. But both support the current shutdown, and both think that Trump is “the most pro-life president ever.”

Few would disagree. A serial philanderer as a celebrity real estate mogul, Trump, as president, has named two ostensibly pro-life Supreme Court nominees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, and expanded the Mexico City policy to stop domestic taxpayer dollars from funding abortions overseas. The religious right loves him for it.

Trump won over evangelicals on these promises. It was Pence who delivered the strongest pitch, less than a month before Election Day, telling the Values Voters Summit in September of 2016 that “the days of public funding for Planned Parenthood are over when the Trump-Pence administration arrives in Washington.”

Two years later, they haven’t delivered — although Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, says it isn’t for lack of trying. Republicans were ready to gut Planned Parenthood’s federal budget during Obamacare repeal. Then Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., voted against the deal at the last minute. Dannenfelser blames him and the other two Republican senators who voted “nay,” not the president. She endorses the idea of a second shutdown, saying she’s “all for it” before adding that “if you’re not living, you can’t benefit from a border wall.”

The politicians gathered on stage have mixed feelings. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., is about as pro-life as they come. He just doesn’t think “shutting down the government is the right approach to resolving these differences.”

It is about tactics, not conviction, he explains: “We can stand for something firmly, like defunding Planned Parenthood, like border security, and at the same time work to get cooperation here to advance our cause.”

Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., thinks the opposite. “Republicans in Congress have failed the backbone test on defunding Planned Parenthood. It comes down to that. It takes leadership to do that, and so far leadership has failed the backbone test to get it done.” If Banks was picking the fights, things would be different. “I’m for building the wall, I’m for holding out on border security funding,” he says, “but I’d much rather be in a fight right now to defund Planned Parenthood.”

These interviews are getting hard to hear because the Pence motorcade has just rolled up, unannounced. The thousands of pro-life faithful whoop and holler their approval as the vice president and his wife, Karen Pence, and take the stage to deliver a surprise address.

“Life is winning in America once again,” Pence declares, as the shutdown stretches into its 25th day.