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Christie backs 20-week abortion ban

The move is being viewed as an appeal to social conservatives should he make a bid for the Oval Office.

Add New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to the list of potential 2016 presidential candidates backing a ban on abortions for pregnant women after 20 weeks.

The Republican on Monday said he approved the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” telling the national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, “I am proud to be a pro-life Republican. I believe that every life is an individual gift from God and no life is disposable.”

Christie, who has said he’ll decide on whether or not he’ll run for the nation’s highest office by late spring or early summer, used the announcement to also tout his social conservative beliefs -- amid some critics’ concern that he is too moderate to do well in early voting states like Iowa and South Carolina.

“When I was preparing to run for governor of New Jersey, there were those who told me that there was no way I would be elected as a pro-life candidate. I told them that they were wrong, that voters would accept the sincerity of my beliefs even if they felt differently. Today, I am a living example that being pro-life is not a political liability anywhere else in America,” he said.

Related: Christie adopts a new posture on guns

The governor’s declaration is not expected to impact New Jersey, where both the Senate and Assembly are controlled by Democratic majorities – but rather it’s being viewed as an appeal to social conservatives should he make a bid for the Oval Office.

After all, a slew of potential 2016 candidates seeking the GOP nomination have also said they backed the act, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Marco Rubio of Florida. The influential National Right to Life Committee has said the 20-week ban is a top legislative priority.

Christie came under some scrutiny last summer after he did not initially take a firm stance on the Supreme Court’s decision on Hobby Lobby, which ruled that some employers could decline to offer birth control coverage in health plans if there are religious exemptions. A day after the controversial ruling, Christie told CNBC, “Why should I give an opinion as to whether they were right or wrong? At the end of the day [the Supreme Court] did what they did.”

Meanwhile, Cruz and Rubio hailed the Supreme Court decision as a big win for religious freedom while Paul said the ruling meant Americans wouldn’t have to worry about big government intervention. Weeks later, Christie declared his support for the Hobby Lobby ruling. “Do I support the Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case? I do,” he said in Iowa.