Congressman Chris Smith has represented New Jersey’s 4th Congressional District for the past 32 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. During that time he has become one of the most socially conservative Members of Congress in New Jersey history and has been one of the strongest opponents of abortion and women’s reproductive rights in either house of Congress. He presently serves as the Co-Chairman of the Bi-Partisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus alongside co-chair Democrat Dan Lipinski (IL-03). On the 40th Anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision it’s important to realize how extremist and out of line NJ’s Republican Members of Congress are when it comes to the issue of abortion and women’s reproductive rights.
Over his 32 year career, Smith has worked to stop abortions in military hospitals. He has also worked to reinstate the Ronald Reagan-era restrictions that would deny federal funds to family planning organizations that distribute literature abortions abroad (Mexico City Policy). Smith also was a prime mover of legislation to ban partial-birth abortions; the House voted to override Clinton’s vetoes, but Smith’s side fell a few votes short of the two-thirds needed in the Senate. In a January 22, 2004, press release, Smith stated, “Americans want the abortion holocaust to end” and referred to abortion as “child slaughter.” In 2011, Smith introduced HR 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.” The bill contained an exception for “forcible rape,” which opponents criticized as potentially excluding drug-facilitated rape, date rape, and other forms of rape. The bill also allowed an exception for minors who are victims of incest, but not other forms of statutory rape, regardless of the age of the victim.
Earlier this morning, Congressman Smith held a press conference “to mark the 40th year since the Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in the United States, paving the way for 55 million abortions.” In the press conference he condemned President Obama as the “abortion president”. Smith, along with Congressmen LoBiondo, Runyan, Garrett, and Lance received a 0% score from Planned Parenthood (Rep. Frelinghuysen received a 31% score). The scores were calculated by looking at recent Congressional votes on international access to contraceptives and condoms, mandating abstinence-only sex education abroad, abortion access for women in the District of Columbia, attacks on Planned Parenthood, abortion access in health care reform, health care for low-income women, and undermining the full range of women’s health services just to name a few.
NJ Republican members of Congress often like to taut their moderate, centrist Republicanism when it suits them (perhaps with the exception of Scott Garrett), but it has become apparent that they are still very conservative and extreme when it comes to abortion and women’s reproductive health care choices. On this 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, all New Jerseyans, both men and women, who care about abortion rights and women’s reproductive rights need to lobby and make sure that our Representatives, especially extremists like Chris Smith, get called out for their positions and vote for policies that protect women’s health care choices and conform with the Roe v. Wade decision which passed on January 22, 1973.