New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), a potential 2016 contender, on Monday endorsed a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
“I am proud to be a pro-life Republican. I believe that every life is an individual gift from God, and that no life is disposable,” Christie said in the statement to the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group.
A bill enacting such a ban, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, was abruptly pulled by House leaders in January after opposition from some female Republican lawmakers. The lawmakers criticized language they said only allowed exceptions for rape if the victim reports the crime to police.
“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,” he said. “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.
“I urge Congress to take swift action on this important issue,” he added.
Christie’s statement comes after the Susan B. Anthony List earlier Monday sent out an email to reporters highlighting that Christie was the only potential Republican presidential candidate who had not endorsed the bill.
“As you can see, 13 likely candidates, including Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, and Gov. Scott Walker, have announced their support for this popular measure,” the email said. “Gov. Christie is the only exception.”
Spokeswoman for the group later said it had sent requests for the potential candidates’ positions and that Christie just responded on Monday.
“There is complete unity on the Republican side around this highly reasonable proposal to protect pain-capable children after five months,” Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement after Christie's endorsement. “Meanwhile, the national Democratic Party and its leaders remind us almost daily of the abortion lobby’s importance in their policy and politics. We expect this clear difference to be a focal point of the general election debate.”
House leaders said in January that they would work to bring the bill back to the floor, and the Susan B. Anthony List said it would hold them to that commitment.
Ten states have bans on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, according to the pro-abortion-rights Guttmacher Institute.
The West Virginia Legislature this month voted to enact such a ban, overriding the governor’s veto.
A 20-week abortion ban in Arizona was struck down in 2013 by a federal court that cited Supreme Court precedent protecting the right to an abortion up to the point of viability for a fetus, 24 weeks.