Last week, Chris Christie was in New Hampshire and he gave a talk at a town hall meeting on substance abuse that has taken on nearly a viral nature. In some ways it was good. It reminded us of why a decidedly un-telegenic guy like Christie can arise to national prominence. It makes you wish you could clone the guy and have him run for governor in New York, all of New England, and other leftwing crapholes. At the same time, it shows the contempt that Republican moderates hold for the pro-life movement.
“I’m pro-life. And I think, if you’re pro-life, that means you got to be pro-life for the whole life, not just for the nine months their in the womb. It’s easy to be pro-life for the nine months you’re in the womb. They haven’t done anything to disappoint us yet. They are perfect in there. But when they get out that’s when it gets tough. The 16-year-old teenage girl on the floor of the country lockup, addicted to heroin, I’m pro-life for her too. Her life is just as much a precious gift from God as the one in the womb.”
(I encourage you to view the whole clip because there is some very good stuff in there.)
How many times have you heard this? Thousands? This is a straw man that Christie sets afire and chases about the room beating it with a shovel. Are there a measurable number of people who are anti-abortion but hold the view of addicts that Christie ascribes to them, “they deserved it.” Have you ever heard anyone say that an addict’s life is not precious?
Once, many years ago, I was working in a staff position supporting a commission chaired by Senator Bob Kerry and Senator John Danforth on welfare reform. Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson, back when he was as strong a conservative as existed in the Senate, was part of that commission. After some particularly moving testimony he said, “My grandfather shot a man dead in the streets of Cody, Wyoming. My uncle went to prison. Those are tragedies but they don’t mean anything more.”
Substance abuse is a tragedy. It is not only a tragedy by the impact it has on personal health and upon families but because it also challenges some very important aspects of our actual humanity. The law school classmate that Christie refers to in this speech, who died from an overdose of pills and alcohol, had everything going for him: successful career, wonderful wife, money, a network of supportive friends. Yet, in the end, he succumbed to addiction. No he didn’t deserve it, but, at the same time, he made some conscious decisions along the path that drugs were more important than his life. What could or should have been done to change the trajectory of this unfortunate man’s life? If a man of privilege, like Christie’s classmate, was unable to prevail against addiction, what course of action could or should society take to aid someone with a lot less going for them.
If tough cases make bad law they do the same for public policy.
It is here that Christie’s statement is shown to be what it is. A slap at the pro-life movement. There is really no relationship between intervening to safe the helpless and taking over the life of a sentient adult to impose treatment upon them. You can be strongly pro-life and at the same time remember Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Some people, and I have known more than a few of them, like the feeling of the drug. They aren’t stupid. Even though they are cognizant of the damage they still prefer a short life with the drug to a longer life without it. What then? Involuntary committal to an rehab clinic? A re-hab colony where they can be monitored? More drug laws? Fewer drug laws? More or less incarceration?
As Mona Charen observes in National Review:
This is a tired and familiar charge from the left. They are fond of saying that pro-lifers only care about babies before they’re born and not after. Good liberals, by contrast, may be fine with dismembering unborn babies, but once they’re out of the womb boy, they’re determined to give them benefits like WIC and Head Start.
This is fatuous. In the first place, no level of social-welfare support for children can morally outweigh licensed killing. Surely that’s what the unborn would say, if they had a voice. Second, the cliché about pro-lifers’ being indifferent to babies after birth is utterly fictional. This country boasts more than 2,000 crisis pregnancy centers that feature support for pregnant women and provide aid during the first year of life (and sometimes beyond) for their children. Christians, who comprise the majority of pro-life Americans, are more than twice as likely to adopt children as non-Christians. People who attend religious services at least once a week (again, assuming considerable overlap with pro-life views) are also more likely to serve as foster parents, volunteers of all kinds, and blood donors. They are also more likely to donate to charities than their secular counterparts. How does that possibly translate into not caring about the “whole life”?
Some pro-life media outlets have lauded Christie:
Christie discussed his pro-life principles and related them to caring for people who struggle with drug addictions.
[Facebook founder Mark] Zuckerberg, who has donated millions to charities that fund Planned Parenthood, posted the video clip of Christie on his Facebook page Wednesday.
“This is an important message. Extremely well said, and thank you for focusing on this,” Zuckerberg wrote online Wednesday.
Let’s hope Christie’s comments will open the eyes of people like Zuckerberg to the value of life inside the womb, too.
Not likely. What Christie did was simply reinforce the existing stereotype that people like Zuckerberg harbor of the pro-life movement. In thirty seconds, Christie reduced the entire pro-life movement to a nasty caricature simply to make himself look noble.