Donald Trump has been called out on social media for giving a speech at Friday's annual March For Life despite reportedly asking his second wife Marla Maples to get an abortion when she became pregnant with Tiffany.

Trump criticized US abortion laws as among the most permissive in the world in a speech to anti-abortion activists at the rally in Washington, DC, and pledged his administration would always defend the 'right to life.'

But he was quickly skewered on social media as people reminded him of an interview he gave with Howard Stern in 2004, in which he can be heard telling the talk-show host that he asked Maples to have an abortion, according to tapes leaked to Newsweek from the Howard Stern Show, reports Daily Mail.

He said that when Maples told him he asked her: "Excuse me?, I didn't know about this?"

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Later when Stern pressed him for more details about his relationship with Melania and asked if he would "push her down the stairs" if the same thing happened in this relationship, he said he wanted Tiffany to be "taken care of."

"Honestly I'm glad it happened. I have a great little daughter, Tiffany," he can be heard saying in the tapes.

"But, you know at the time it was like, 'Excuse me, what happened?'And then I said, 'Well what are we going to do about this?'"

Though he doesn't directly mention abortion in the tapes, it is clear that he thought there was more than one option in dealing with the pregnancy, and that his preferred option would be abortion.

After giving his speech on Friday afternoon, a number of people took to Twitter to remind him of the interview - with many calling him a hypocrite.

President Donald Trump speaks to participants of the annual March for Life event, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Photo / AP
President Donald Trump speaks to participants of the annual March for Life event, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Photo / AP

The Republican president's speech, relayed via video link from the White House Rose Garden to thousands gathered on Washington's National Mall, highlighted his shift in recent years from a supporter of women's access to abortion to a powerful opponent.

But the president tripped over his tongue at a key moment in his landmark nine-minute speech, complaining about American laws that allow late-term fetuses to be "born" – not "torn."

"Right now in a number of states," he said, "the laws allow a baby to be born from his or her mother's womb in the ninth month. It is wrong. It has to change."

"As you all know, Roe v. Wade has resulted in some of the most permissive abortion laws anywhere in the world," he said, criticizing the 1973 Supreme Court decision that affirmed a woman's right to an abortion at most stages of a pregnancy.

Trump said the United States "is one of only seven countries to allow elective late-term abortions," mentioning China and North Korea.

The other countries that allow elective abortions after 20 weeks are Canada, the Netherlands, Singapore and Vietnam, according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion research group.

Though he doesn't directly mention abortion in the tapes, it is clear that he thought there was more than one option in dealing with the pregnancy. Photo / Getty
Though he doesn't directly mention abortion in the tapes, it is clear that he thought there was more than one option in dealing with the pregnancy. Photo / Getty

Trump listed some anti-abortion measures his administration had taken, including an announcement earlier in the day by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The agency said it was revoking Obama administration legal guidance that had sought to discourage states from trying to defund organizations that provide abortion services, such as Planned Parenthood.

Roe v. Wade effectively legalized abortion nationwide. In the 45 years since the decision was issued on Jan. 22, 1973, the March for Life has been staged near the ruling's anniversary in protest.

"Because of you, tens of thousands of Americans have been born and reached their full, God-given potential," Trump, a Christian, told the marchers, who included many groups of students from Roman Catholic schools.

Donald Trump (right) and Marla Maples (left) with daughter Tiffany Trump in 1995. Photo / Getty
Donald Trump (right) and Marla Maples (left) with daughter Tiffany Trump in 1995. Photo / Getty

Trump has pledged to appoint more federal judges who oppose abortion with the hope that the ruling might eventually be overturned.

Trump is the third sitting president to address the march: Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush made supportive remarks to the march at least twice each during their presidencies, speaking via telephone broadcast by loudspeakers.

Trump sent Vice President Mike Pence, a vocal abortion opponent, to speak at last year's march, a few days after the presidential inauguration.

This year Pence introduced Trump, saying the president would "restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law."

Daughter of Donald Trump, Tiffany Trump, delivers a speech on the second day of the Republican National Convention. Photo / AP
Daughter of Donald Trump, Tiffany Trump, delivers a speech on the second day of the Republican National Convention. Photo / AP

Many marchers, carrying signs with slogans such as "Pray to end abortion," said they were excited to hear from a president they see as an ally, but hesitated to point to any specific advancements in their agenda from Trump's first year in office.

"It's so refreshing to have a standing president who supports pro-life," Tim Curran, a 66-year-old grocer who had traveled to the march from Kentucky, said before the remarks and the march to the steps of the Supreme Court for a rally.

"He seems to be moving us back in the direction of traditional families and morality."

The event came a day before the first anniversary of Trump's inauguration, a milestone to be marked by the second Women's March in cities across the United States, including Washington.

Organizers hope to recreate last year's huge anti-Trump protests by hundreds of thousands of people who saw Trump as a foe of women's rights and reproductive freedom.

Tens of thousands of anti-abortion activists from around the U.S. gathered near the National Mall in Washington on Friday. Photo / AP
Tens of thousands of anti-abortion activists from around the U.S. gathered near the National Mall in Washington on Friday. Photo / AP

Trump previously supported women's access to abortion, saying in an interview in 1999, when he was still a celebrity real-estate tycoon in New York City, that while he "hated the concept of abortion," he was "very pro-choice."

As a candidate for the presidency in 2016, Trump said his position had "evolved," describing himself as "pro-life with exceptions," such as in cases of rape or incest.

Trump has said he hopes Roe v. Wade will eventually be overturned and that each state will instead be allowed to decide whether to ban it.

Americans tend to split roughly down the middle on abortion access, with 49 percent saying they supported it and 46 percent saying they opposed it in a 2017 Gallup poll.