WASHINGTON – President Trump affirmed unborn children as image bearers of God and urged Congress to ban late-term abortions in his second State of the Union speech.Trump called for both parties to work together for the good of the country in his address Feb. 5 to a joint session of Congress and a national television audience. He repeated his requirement, however, of a policy that had helped produce a partial 35-day government shutdown and had delayed the date of his State of the Union speech – a physical barrier along the Mexican border to prevent illegal immigration.
Though Democrats and Republicans are deeply divided over abortion, the president asked for unity of effort "to build a culture that cherishes innocent life."
"And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth: All children – born and unborn – are made in the holy image of God," he said.
Trump also endorsed legislation in that cause. "To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother's womb," he told senators and representatives.
Trump's endorsement apparently was for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would prohibit abortions on babies 20 weeks or more after fertilization based on scientific evidence that a child in the womb experiences pain by that point in gestation.
In addressing abortion, the president referred to recent events in New York and Virginia in which Democratic officeholders endorsed the procedure until birth or even the refusal of medical care for children who survive abortions, thereby allowing them to die. When the New York Senate passed a bill protecting abortion until birth, many observers in the gallery there cheered and gave the members a standing ovation.
The scene in New York and comments from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in support of what pro-lifers described as the infanticide of abortion survivors were "chilling displays" to America, Trump said. "These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and their dreams with the world."
In his comments on children as image bearers, Trump affirmed "one of the most fundamental doctrines of Scripture and definitional truths about humanity," R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, stated in an article posted Feb. 6.
The president "made very clear that the grounds for human dignity and the protection of the unborn flow from a biblical worldview – that all humanity is made in the image of God," Mohler wrote.
Other pro-life leaders also commended the president's remarks about unborn children.
Trump "once again demonstrated the paramount importance of protecting mothers and their unborn children," Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, said in a written statement.
Catherine Glenn Foster, president of Americans United for Life, said in written comments Trump "showed why he may be the most pro-life president in American history."
Mohler said Trump's words emphasized the "great worldview divide" over the sanctity and dignity of human life.
"Abortion reigns as the only sacrament that remains amongst the political left," Mohler wrote. "They treat it as a sacrament to cherish and defend at all costs – a worldview that presses them to pass legislation like the new law in New York State."
The Democrats' silence in response to Trump showed their opposition to his call for protection of the unborn, Mohler said.
"The worldview of the left, however, leaves them with no other choice," he wrote. "This has had two horrific consequences. First, the logic of the pro-abortion movement, if honest, must point to the unrestricted access of abortion at any point in the pregnancy for any reason. Second, the pressure of the pro-abortion worldview has made pro-life Democrats an extinct species."
Trump, in his call for cooperation across the aisle, told members of Congress, "Millions of our fellow citizens are watching us now, gathered in this great chamber, hoping that we will govern not as two parties but as one nation.
"We must choose whether we are defined by our differences – or whether we dare to transcend them."
On immigration, Trump continued to call for the kind of security on the southern border that Democratic leaders have been unwilling to support. The federal government is again facing a partial shutdown if a solution is not found by Feb. 15.
The president said he has ordered another 3,750 troops to the border with Mexico and described illegal immigration as "a moral issue."
"The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security and financial well being of all Americans," he said. "We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens."
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of California said in a written statement about Trump's immigration comments, "Instead of fear-mongering and manufacturing a crisis at the border, President Trump should commit to signing the bipartisan conference committee's bill to keep government open and provide strong, smart border security solutions."
The president warned Pelosi and other Democrats about investigations they appear prepared to conduct of him.
"An economic miracle is taking place in the United States – and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations," he said. "If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation."
Trump, Pelosi said, "threatened the United States Congress not to exercise its constitutional responsibility of oversight."
The president pointed to several examples of bipartisan cooperation in the last session of Congress, including criminal justice reform in the enactment of the First Step Act, as well as measures to address the opioid crisis and Veterans Administration reform.
Trump's proposals offered during the speech included lowering the cost of health care and prescription drugs, elimination of the HIV epidemic in a decade and school choice for families.
In a written statement, Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., a Southern Baptist, described the president's speech as "a call for all of Washington to put productivity over personality, partnerships over parties and people over politics. Though there are many paths of opinion, if we choose to work together to solve the issues our nation faces, we can meet on the path of American greatness."
Trump has said in the past he would sign the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, but Congress has yet to approve it. The House of Representatives passed the proposal in 2017, but the Senate rejected it in early 2018. Unlike 2017, Democrats – who almost unanimously opposed the bill – now control the House.