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Trump emphasizes importance of 2018 victories to abortion-opposing group

Last Updated May 22, 2018 9:26 PM EDT

President Trump touted the importance of midterm victories, speaking to the abortion-opposing Susan B. Anthony List's 11th Annual Campaign for Life Gala Tuesday night in Washington, D.C. The president's remarks come shortly after his administration announced it intends to pull federal funding from health facilities that make referrals to abortion clinics.  

Mr. Trump emphasized that Democrats in the House and Senate don't share their conservative values on the right to life, using that as a basis for the need to elect more Republicans. The president said the GOP needs nine more votes in the Senate to garner enough support for a 20-week abortion ban. But he also touted his 2016 victory more than once, as he often does when addressing a friendly audience.

"Your vote in 2018 is every bit important as your vote in 2016, although I'm not sure I really believe that, but you know. I don't know who the hell wrote that line," Mr. Trump said.

Despite that off-script remark, the president still spent much of his speech highlighting the need to elect more Republicans and conservatives in the House and Senate.

"We must work together to elect more lawmakers who share our values," he said, to an audience that seemed to support his agenda on tax cuts, immigration, and other key administration agenda items, in addition to his agenda on abortion. 

The federal funding rule change is being cheered by many conservatives, as it will pull funding from groups like Planned Parenthood. The move, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said last week, "would ensure that taxpayers do not indirectly fund abortions." Critics of the administration say the change could seriously restrict funding for essential women's health services.

Mr. Trump highlighted that and other administrative changes to restrict federal funding for abortion.

"My administration has proposed a new rule to prohibit Title X funding from going to any clinic that performs abortions," Mr. Trump said Tuesday night, to applause from his audience. 

The Susan B. Anthony List raises funds for federal candidates who oppose legal abortion. Vice President Mike Pence spoke to the group last year. But the SBA List hasn't always supported Mr. Trump. Before he was nominated, the group urged voters to look elsewhere within the GOP for its 2016 champion, and called Mr. Trump "unacceptable." But since then, Mr. Trump has championed their causes. 

On Tuesday night, the group's president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, said the upcoming midterm elections are important, calling this a good opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision determining abortion is legal.