Chris Christie, Anais Nin and the Enforcement of Motherhood

What do New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and writer Anais Nin have in common? Not a whole lot, Christie would probably say. But a case can be made for their similar positions on one major issue: the importance of motherhood.

Christie has been everywhere in the news since his speech to the conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition, in which he drew loud applause when explaining his anti-abortion stance. Christie, like Mitt Romney and assorted other deft politicians, was pro-choice for a while. But he reportedly changed his mind when his wife was pregnant and he heard a heartbeat.

The way this works, for Christie, Romney and the Faith and Freedom Coalition, is that life in utero becomes sanctified to the exclusion of its carrier. The woman becomes simply that, a fetus-carrier, until she delivers a baby. And there it is: Motherhood.

The Faith and Freedom Coalition, along with Christie, Romney and conservatives everywhere, promotes the notion that once conception occurs motherhood must be enforced, and the fetus protected. This creates the noble, if tragically erroneous, belief that if abortion is banned it will simply never happen. But forced motherhood is not always possible.

This writer claims no insight into Gov. Christie’s soul, or expertise on Anais Nin, but I do know a lot about illegal abortion. If you tell women with unintended pregnancies that they may not terminate those pregnancies, they won’t listen. They will simply do desperate things to end their pregnancies, and unfortunately a lot of them will die trying. This is already happening in the U.S., thanks to conservatives’ success in denying access to safe abortion: poor women desperate to terminate unwanted pregnancies are again facing suffering and possible death.

Knowing of my interest in preventing more unnecessary deaths, a friend recently forwarded this comment made by Anais Nin in a 1940 diary recounting her abortion experience:

“Motherhood is a vocation like any other.”

Gov. Christie would agree, or proclaim it more exalted than others – except, perhaps, politics. But he and the Faith & Freedom folks would doubtless take umbrage with Nin’s following line:

“It should be freely chosen, not imposed upon women.”