BY TOM HESTER SR.
Amid the numbing cold, Gov. Chris Christie Monday warmed the hearts of hundreds of New Jersey Right to Life demonstrators who gathered in front of the Statehouse in Trenton to mark the 38th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
The governor told the crowd he is also pro-life and anti-abortion. "Every life is precious and a gift from God," he declared, according to NJ.com.
Pro-choice advocates also recognized the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling.
Christie told the crowd he has not discussed changes in policy or altering the judicial system to try to undo standing laws that allow abortions. One of his few moves related to his pro-life stance was to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, which funds abortion services.
"What I encourage all of you to do is what I will continue to do, which is to speak calmly and clearly and forthrightly for the idea that this is an issue whose time has come," the governor said, according to NJ.com reports.
Christie said he was not always anti-abortion but he changed his outlook when his wife Mary Pat became pregnant with their daughter Sarah, who is now 14.
"It was at that moment that it became clear to me that being on the sidelines on that issues was not something that I could live with," the governor said. "That child is a life which deserves protection."
Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex) and Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex), the Legislature's highest ranking women, marked the anniversary by calling for a renewed climate of civility that respects an individual's personal choices while protecting a woman's fundamental right to make decisions over her own body.
"What Roe v Wade did for women was significant in that it elevated many from second class citizenry by giving them the power to make decisions over their own body when they might have been forced into a situation against their own will or choosing," Oliver said. "Anyone that tries to paint Roe v Wade as a decision that imposes one person's view on another is missing the point. Ultimately, this decision respected varying ideological opinions by granting every woman the freedom to make decisions based on their own personal beliefs."
Buono added, "For millions of women across New Jersey, today is a reminder that our laws protect their fundamental right to privacy and freedom to choose based on their own conscience. Our laws protect the rights of those who gather to voice their opposition to abortion just as much as they protect a woman's right to choose. For every person who calls himself ‘pro-life' and calls for all abortion to be illegal is another person who considers herself ‘pro-life' but recognizes that moniker reflects a personal choice, not a political extreme."
Oliver and Buono criticized the governor for what they described as using his position to promote the pro-life position.
"There is nothing objectionable to the governor's personal stance against abortion, but his use of his office to promote an anti-choice agenda is troubling," Buono said. "By aligning himself with the far-right in this debate, he is leaving millions of New Jersey women by the wayside. Our nation is not too far removed from an era when a woman's only choice was no choice. We cannot drag the health and safety of countless women back into the shadows."
Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) in his role as state Democratic chairman, said, "The 38th anniversary of this landmark Supreme Court decision gives us the opportunity to remember that the court respected an individual's personal choices, while protecting a woman's fundamental right to make decisions over her own body," Wisniewski said. "During the campaign, the governor danced around his support for a woman's right to make decisions about her body, but after Christie's attendance at today's rally, there can be no question left about where he stands."