March for Life: President Trump becomes 1st sitting president to attend pro-life rally

(Left photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images; Right photo by: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump called it his “profound honor" on Friday to be the first president to attend the annual anti-abortion gathering in Washington called the March for Life.

The president told the crowd the Democrats were embracing “radical and extreme positions" on abortion and praised those attending the event, saying “unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House."

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“Every life brings love into this world. Every child brings joy to a family. Every person is worth protecting," Trump said, prompting loud cheers from the many thousands attending the march.

Critics, for their part, accused Trump of using the march to try to distract from his impeachment trial in the Senate.

During an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in 1999, Trump described himself as “very pro-choice,” but during his 2016 campaign, Trump said his views had changed and that he was now opposed to abortion, but for three exceptions: In the case of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is at risk.

Last year, Trump joined the event via video satellite from the White House Rose Garden. 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, the landmark ruling that established a woman's legal right to abortion.

RELATED: Trump to become first president to speak at the March for Life

Anti-abortion activists participate 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. (Ph

Past presidents who opposed abortion, including Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, steered clear of personally attending the march to avoid being too closely associated with demonstrators eager to outlaw the procedure. They sent remarks for others to deliver, spoke via telephone hookup or invited organizers to visit the White House.

According to Pew Research Center polling in 2019, roughly 6 in 10 Americans said abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Over time, though, both the Republican and Democratic parties have taken harder-line positions for and against abortion rights.

RELATED: 47th annual 'March for Life' rally to be held Friday in DC

The following are the street closures related to the rally released by the Metropolitan Police Department: 

The following streets will be closed from 10 a.m. to approximately 3 p.m.:

Constitution Avenue from 12th Street, NW to Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

4th Street from Independence Avenue, SW to Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

The following streets will be closed from 12 p.m. to approximately 3 p.m.:

3rd Street from Independence Avenue, SW to Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Constitution Avenue from 3rd Street, NW to 2nd Street, NE

Dc police said drivers should expect parking restrictions in the area where the rally is taking place and that motorists should be prepared for traffic.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.