Christie announces support for 20-week abortion ban

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers his budget address for fiscal year 2016 to the Legislature, Feb. 24, 2015 at the Statehouse in Trenton, NJ. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers his budget address for fiscal year 2016 to the Legislature, Feb. 24, 2015 at the Statehouse in Trenton, NJ.
For much of the 1990s, when Chris Christie (R) launched his political career in New Jersey, he was unapologetically pro-choice. The Republican, eager to be seen as a blue-state moderate, even used to brag about the personal donations he'd made to Planned Parenthood.
That version of Christie is long gone.

The anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, in tandem with the conservative American Principles Project, has been asking Republican presidential hopefuls to take a pledge. One by one -- either with preexisting legislation, or new statements -- they have come aboard, and supported bans on abortions after 20 weeks. On Monday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gave the SBA List a statement of his support for a "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act which would protect unborn children beginning at 20 weeks."

As Dave Weigel's report noted, Christie's statement endorsing a 20-week ban includes the governor's boasting, "When I was preparing to run for Governor of New Jersey there were those who told me there was no way I would be elected as a pro-life candidate.  I told them that they were wrong, that the 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 in America."
The part about Christie's pro-choice background seems to have been left out.
As a matter of policy, whether the governor appreciates these details or not, a 20-week ban is deeply problematic. As regular readers may recall, because roughly 99% of abortions occur before the 21st week of a pregnancy, these later terminations often involve "rare, severe fetal abnormalities and real threats to a woman's health."
It's why the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is so strongly against proposals like the one Christie endorsed yesterday.
Also note, of course, that the Republican-run U.S. House tried to pass its own 20-week ban earlier this year, but the bill was derailed when GOP lawmakers couldn't agree among themselves about exemptions for rape victims.
As for the politics, Christie recently boasted that his ideological convictions led him to veto Planned Parenthood funding "five times out of the New Jersey budget." It led the editorial board of the Newark Star-Ledger to call the governor out for "lying" to the public.

Back when Christie repeatedly vetoed this funding -- $7.5 million annually that was used to provide life-saving care like mammograms and PAP smears -- he insisted he was only acting out of financial concern, not pro-life ideology. But only a numskull would believe it. If this were about money, Christie never would have squandered the generous federal matching dollars by ending the state's contribution. The consequences were harsh: Six clinics were forced to close, and others had to cut back on hours or increase waiting periods. And none of the money was even being used for abortions. Christie cut it simply because some of it was going to facilities that also perform the procedure. He was pandering to conservatives who detest Planned Parenthood, at the expense of women's health.

Evidently, that pandering continues.
* Disclosure: My wife works for Planned Parenthood, but played no role in this piece.