The XX Factor

Chris Christie Likes Birth Control … for Himself, That Is

A maker of babies, but on his own terms, in Annapolis, Maryland, on July 15.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

At a New Hampshire campaign event, Chris Christie tried to prop up his image as a moderate by telling the audience that he has used birth control, even though his church, the Catholic Church, forbids it. This really shouldn’t be a big surprise, since 98 percent of Catholics in the U.S. do the same, which means the big reveal here is that Christie isn’t evasive about the obvious. Considering how normal hypocritical posturing about sex is in this country, especially for conservatives, it does take a certain amount of bravery for Christie to refuse to front about his own private life like this. 

Still, Christie doesn’t deserve any congratulations for this. He’s all too happy to declare his own right to defy religious authorities and shape his sex life how he sees fit, but his public record shows that he does not extend that same right to others. Christie has been active in the fight against affordable contraception, repeatedly vetoing funds for Planned Parenthood that go to make sure that low income women have the same right he and his wife enjoy to decide for themselves if and when to have children. 

And while Christie doesn’t think the Pope should have a vote in his sex life, he feels very differently about whether or not your boss should have a vote in yours. In a campaign visit to Iowa last year, Christie affirmed the Supreme Court decision in Hobby Lobby v Burwell, where the court found that an employer should be able to deny contraception coverage to employees based on the employer’s religious beliefs. 

It isn’t hard to see what is happening here. As the anti-choice movement becomes more radical and openly hostile to contraception, that allows Republicans to paint it as a “moderate” position to treat safer sex as a luxury that should only be available to those who can pay out of pocket, rather than a normal part of health care that should be available to all.

The “sex for me, but not for thee” attitude fails to address the way that we all pay when individual women, regardless of income level, are not empowered to make their own reproductive health care decisions. Unintended pregnancy costs this country billions of dollars every year, money that could be saved by simply treating contraception as a right instead of a luxury and doing what we can to make sure anyone who wants it can afford to use it. Christie’s attitude makes sex a haves vs. have-nots issue, but in reality, it’s a normal part of most everyone’s life and smart public policy should reflect that.