Among President Donald Trump’s talking points during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address was the heroism of a police officer and his wife who adopted the baby of a homeless woman suffering from a heroin addiction. Trump hailed police officer Ryan Holets and his wife, Rebecca, for offering to provide a home for the child, telling the story of how of Holets encountered the baby’s biological mother, who was pregnant at the time and “preparing to inject heroin.” Holets, Trump explained, told the distraught mother-to-be that he and Rebecca would take the baby after she gave birth, and raise the newborn as their own along with their four children.
In his remarks, however, Trump neglected to mention the name of the baby’s biological mother, and fleetingly referred to her only as “a homeless addicted pregnant woman.” Her name is Crystal Champ. Beyond applying those labels to Champ, Trump never even mentioned her again. In an Op-Ed for The New York Times, Jennifer Weiner pointed out that this omission does not appear to be a coincidence.
According to CNN, Champ had became addicted to opiods as a teenager and has been living on the streets for the past two years. But after her story went public, donations from a GoFundMe page and a scholarship from a rehab facility helped to get her clean and back on her feet — according to Holets, Champ, 35, has now been sober for more than 40 days.
But for Trump, and other abortion opponents, Weiner argues, it’s very important that people not consider the life of a pregnant mother as valuable as that of their “pre-born” baby. Anti-abortion posters, she notes, typically show “the image of a fetus in utero, floating free, like an astronaut, with the umbilical cord, untethered, trailing off into the darkness … with the woman literally out of the picture.” In so doing, Weiner says, they hope to argue that embryos and newborns are equivalent — and that the mother is “nothing more than the place that ‘pre-born baby’ happens to reside.” As further evidence, she points to the telling characterization by many anti-abortion activists and politicians of women as “the child’s host” — language famously employed by Congressman Justin Humphreys of Oklahoma and Steve Martin, a U.S. Representative from Virginia, among others.
“If she’s an invisible, nameless nonperson, she’s nothing more than Tupperware for the next generation, a thing that exists and matters only in service to her baby, a woman undeserving of sympathy or rescue or even a name,” Weiner concludes. Trump, it should be noted, recently became the first sitting U.S. president to speak at the March for Life, an annual anti-abortion rally. And thanks to pushes from hard-line conservatives, six states in the U.S. now only have one abortion clinic remaining.
Last October, Champ gave birth to a baby that the Holets name Hope. In December, Champ talked with CNN about how opioid addiction has defined her life. “It is everything,” she confessed. “I did give up, ya know … I just decided that this was going to be my life.” When she talked with CNN, she was living in a tent by the side of a highway in Albuquerque.
“I know how bad it is,” Champ said, fighting back tears. “I am the first one to know how bad my situation is.” She goes on to discuss giving up her own baby, saying that being apart from her child is not something she wanted to do, but something she had to do.”I just want her to be safe and secure, and, ya know, be in a family and be loved … and have a chance.”
Watch CNN’s report chronicling Champ and the Holets’ story below, which includes body camera footage of their fateful meeting.