Christie ties himself in knots on abortion in TV interview clash

Former Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie speaks during the third Republican presidential primary debate (AFP via Getty Images)

Chris Christie battled with Morning Joe’s Mika Brzezinski over the issue of abortion on Thursday after a raucous GOP debate the night before reflected on Republican losses on the abortion rights front in Ohio and Virginia.

The former New Jersey governor is a frequent guest of the Morning Joe crew and typically receives a warm welcome on the show; Thursday morning, however, saw him accused of dishonesty by Brzezinski on the issue of abortions in the ninth month of the pregnancy.

Specifically, the MSNBC host claimed that Mr Christie had accused Democrats of supporting limitless abortion that late into the pregnancy.

“I’m not calling you a liar; it’s not honest,” Brzezinski told Mr Christie. She added: “There isn’t abortion in the ninth month.”

Mr Christie responded that he welcomed an “honest” discussion on the issue but contended that it was Brzezinski who was not being truthful about the law, or his remarks.

“You’re the one who’s not being honest. I did not say there was abortion in the ninth month. I said that the law in New Jersey, and New York, and Illinois, and California permits it.”

Neither the host nor candidate was truly addressing the nuanced facts concerning abortion in the third trimester, which includes months sevent to nine of the pregnancy. Abortions in this trimester as a whole are exceedingly rare, and of that subset, only an exceptionally small minority are for reasons other than to protect the health of the mother or due to fetal inviability.

Democratic lawmakers and policy experts who oppose restrictions on abortion in this stage of the pregnancy by and large do so to relieve burdens on hospitals and women faced with these types of situations.

The availability of abortion services for women in the third trimester who do not fit that definition was slim before the end of federal abortion protections last year, given that they were not protected by the Court ruling in Roe vs Wade to begin with. Democrats who have called for Roe to be codified into federal law, by extension, cannot honestly be accused of supporting such practices unless they explicitly say otherwise.

That hasn’t stopped Republicans from doing so; many, including Donald Trump, in the GOP regularly make the wildly false assertion that their political foes support abortion up until and even after the moment of birth, which under law would just be murder.