WATCH: Trump promises March for Life crowd that he stands with them

Pro-choice activists hold signs alongside anti-abortion activists participating in the "March for Life," an annual event to mark the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the US, outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, January 18, 2019. (AFP)
Pro-choice activists hold signs alongside anti-abortion activists participating in the "March for Life," an annual event to mark the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the US, outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, January 18, 2019. (AFP)

President Donald Trump sought to assure opponents of abortion rights on Friday that he stands with them and would veto any legislation from a Democratic-controlled House that "weakens the protection of human life."

Trump spoke via video to participants at this year's March for Life on the National Mall. Thousands of people across the country braved the cold to attend the event.

"As president, I will always defend the first right in our Declaration of Independence, the right to life," Trump said.

Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle highlighted legislative efforts on the abortion issue ahead of Friday's march.

Some Democratic lawmakers in the House held a news conference last week to note their support for ending a ban of Medicaid funding for abortion services known as the Hyde Act. The Republican-led Senate failed to advance a measure that would permanently prohibit taxpayer funding for abortion. Trump said he supported that effort.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who attended the event, listed actions the administration has taken over the past two years to deter abortions.

Trump noted that the administration has ensured foreign aid doesn't flow to organisations that promote abortion. Pence credited Trump with nominating conservative judges to the federal bench. Trump also said that he had just sent a letter to members of Congress reiterating his veto threat on legislation weakening abortion restrictions.

"And we have the support to uphold those vetoes," Trump said.

Isabel Chism, 18, from the Detroit area, was among the participants. She said young women need to make their voices heard no matter their political leaning and she's concerned that women with her anti-abortion perspective are often ignored.

"A majority of our group is women, and we believe in women's equality, but we also believe in the equality of unborn women," Chism said.

The first march took place on the west steps of the Capitol in January 1974, the year after the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade.

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