Chris Christie is talking life issues — not abortion, but about what New Jersey can do to save the lives of drug addicts. “If you’re pro-life, you need to be pro-life the entire way,” he says in an interview with National Review Online. “We believe in the sanctity of all life.”
Emerging from the scandal surrounding the closure of lanes on the George Washington Bridge, which for months has engulfed his administration, Christie is showing a softer side. At a shelter for recovering drug addicts on Tuesday, he announced that he’s making Narcan, an emergency medication that can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose, available to emergency medical technicians throughout the state.
The drug was introduced in two counties in as a part of a pilot program organized in response to what the governor said is a growing heroin epidemic in the Northeast. “It’s a huge problem for us,” Christie says.
Christie’s move to make Narcan more readily available is the latest part of an effort to treat those arrested for drug abuse rather than to throw them behind bars. In his second inaugural address in January, Christie described the “failed war on drugs” and criticized the idea that “incarceration is the cure of every ill caused by drug abuse.” He says he wants the state to cover drug rehab (insurance companies don’t), and he has expanded programs known as “drug courts” that make treatment, rather than jail time, mandatory for certain non-violent drug offenders, and evidence shows the recidivism rate for those who enter the program is far lower than for those who go to jail. On that front, too, the governor couched his efforts in pro-life rhetoric, saying that he favors “a society that understands that every life has value and no life is disposable.”
The governor kept his distance, though, from broader conservative reform efforts — spearheaded on the federal level by Kentucky senator Rand Paul — aimed both at reducing the nation’s prison population and at making inroads with the African-American community ahead of the 2016 election. “This is not a prison-population reduction effort,” Christie says.