Like a majority of Catholics, Chris Christie has used birth control at some point in his life.
"I’m a Catholic, but I’ve used birth control, and not just the rhythm method," the Republican presidential candidate said Tuesday at a campaign stop in New Hampshire. "So, you know, my church has a teaching against birth control. Does this make me an awful Catholic, because I believe and practiced that function during part of my life? I don't think so."
Neither do most Catholics. According to a Pew Research poll from 2013, 76 percent of Catholics in the United States said the church should lift its prohibition on birth control. Probably because so many Catholics use one method or the other. Data from the Guttmacher Institute found that an overwhelming majority—98 percent—of Catholic women aged 14-44 have used a method of birth control other than natural family planning at least once.
And for sexually active Catholic women who are not pregnant and who are trying to avoid pregnancy, 89 percent say they use a method of birth control other than natural family planning. (Natural family planning, as outlined in the Standards for Diocesan Natural Family Planning Ministry, is "based on observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman's menstrual cycle" and involves avoiding sex during fertile phases.)
So Christie's use of birth control—and his à la carte approach to his faith—puts him squarely in the majority with other Catholics.
But his ~chill~ birth control vibe never translated to policy for New Jersey residents who, like Christie, use contraception.
In 2010, Christie eliminated $7.5 million in state funding for family planning clinics and reissued a veto on those funds four times in the next three years. Those cuts coincided with the closure of six of the state's 58 reproductive health clinics, as well as a reduction in hours for other clinics.
According to the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, Christie's cuts, combined with Title X reductions from 2011 and a 6 percent federal sequestration cut in 2013, "resulted in a 24 percent decrease in patients and defunded four family planning agency projects." All told, more than 20,000 women were left in need of publicly funded contraceptive services.
Christie is right: using contraception doesn't make him a bad Catholic. But what kind of governor does it make him if his budget cuts stand in the way of people in New Jersey making the same choice?