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The Latest: Trump says he’s committed to protecting life

January 19, 2018

President Donald Trump pauses during his address to the March of Life participants from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and his views on abortion rights (all times local):

1:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he’s committed to building “a society where life is celebrated, protected and cherished.”

Trump spoke Friday via video from the White House Rose Garden to thousands of anti-abortion activists gathered for the annual March for Life. He says he is the first president to address the gathering in its 45-year history.

The former Manhattan real estate magnate was stepping to the forefront of the movement, a significant distance from the days when he supported abortion rights. He says he changed his mind around 2011.

Last year, Vice President Mike Pence addressed the march in Trump’s absence.

But nearly a year into the presidency, Trump has delivered rules, policy changes — and Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

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11:25 a.m.

President Donald Trump is addressing the anti-abortion March for Life from the White House Rose Garden.

Organizers say the video address Friday makes him the first president to speak to the march using that technology. Anti-abortion activists say their fight against abortion rights is in the strongest position it’s been in in more than a decade.

That’s despite Trump’s onetime advocacy for abortion rights, a stance he says changed around 2011. A year into his presidency, Trump has sought to curtail abortion rights by making rules and policy changes across agencies. He also preserved the Supreme Court’s conservative majority by getting Justice Neil Gorsuch confirmed.

Abortion-rights groups say Trump’s actions amount to a sweeping rollback of reproductive rights.

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11:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump’s administration is spelling out how it plans to protect medical providers who refuse to perform procedures such as abortions because of moral or religious scruples.

The Department of Health and Human Services said Friday it is proposing a new regulation that details how existing federal conscience protections will be enforced in real-world situations. That follows an announcement Thursday of a new division in the HHS Office for Civil Rights devoted to protecting the conscience rights of clinicians.

Also Friday, HHS took action that may help conservative states restrict or eliminate Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood. The department rescinded Obama administration guidance to states that limited the circumstances in which they could exclude a medical provider.

The announcements coincided with the annual march on Washington by abortion opponents.

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2 a.m.

President Donald Trump is stepping to the forefront of his administration’s efforts to roll back abortion rights.

He’s expected to speak by video Friday to thousands of anti-abortion activists participating in the March for Life. Last year, Vice President Mike Pence performed that duty in person.

Trump’s relationship with anti-abortion activists has been complicated in the past. He once supported abortion rights, a stance he’s said to have rejected around 2011. A year into his presidency, Trump has delivered some key victories to abortion opponents and the conservatives who make up his base of support. Chief among them: Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch has preserved the high court’s conservative majority.

On Thursday, the administration announced new protections for health care providers who have religious objections to certain procedures, including abortion.

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