New Jersey enacts abortion rights law while roe hangs in the balance

New Jersey lawmakers voted Monday to pass a bill that extends abortion rights in the state ahead of a looming Supreme Court ruling that represents the greatest threat to abortion rights in a generation.

The state Senate and Assembly voted to adopt Law on Free Reproductive Choice, which codifies the right to reproductive autonomy regardless of federal law and extends access to abortion treatment in the state.

The law guarantees every New Jerseyer “the right to contraception, the right to terminate a pregnancy and the right to carry a pregnancy to term.” according to the text of the bill. The law on free reproductive choice also allows “all qualified health professionals” to provide abortion treatment, such as advanced nurses and midwives in addition to doctors.

The bill is being sent to the desk of Gov. Phil Murphy (D), who on Monday signaled he will sign it into law this week. “A bill to codify a woman’s right to vote in state law and expand access to reproductive health care for all has just been passed in both houses of the Legislature,” he said. tweeted. “… With Roe v. Wade under attack, the need for this bill is more urgent than ever.”

"With Roe v. Wade under attack, the need for this bill is more urgent than ever, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said after the state legislature voted to pass the Freedom of Reproductive Election Act.
“With Roe v. Wade under attack, the need for this bill is more urgent than ever,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said after the state legislature voted to pass the Freedom of Reproductive Election Act.

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez via Getty Images

Some Republican lawmakers were frustrated with how the bill got through the legislature, noting that the text was not released to lawmakers until last week. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.

“I am so outraged by the fact that as women in the 21st century, 2022, we are still trying to defend and justify why we should have the right to make choices in our lives,” said State Attorney Carole Murphy (D). .

Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D) called up many of her male colleagues who were against the bill, tells them: “To men: You’re not a woman, and until you have a vagina, you have nothing to say.”

Although the bill was passed, some advocates of abortion rights and progressive Democrats criticized it for not going far enough. The original text of the bill included a requirement that health insurance companies should cover the costs of abortion care and contraception at no cost. But after the 2020 election, when several blue seats turned red, Democrats were forced to cut insurance bills to get the bill passed in the Legislature.

“This is a fantastic first step and we should celebrate the adoption of this legislation,” said Anjali Mehrotra, president of the National Organization for Women of New Jersey. said in a statement. “But New Jersey can and must do more to improve access to reproductive health care and eliminate stigma. We need to adopt more protections for New Jersey’s vulnerable and marginalized populations, such as removing cost barriers to abortion, ensuring that medical abortion remains available. and allow access to hormonal contraception without a prescription from a physician. ”

New Jersey is one of a handful of states take steps to actively affirm abortion rights prior to Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization The decision of the Supreme Court. During oral arguments last month, the Supreme Court said signaled that it was likely to overthrow Roe v. Wade, the High Court’s decision of 1973, which protects a person’s right to abortion.

The oral arguments in the Dobbs case prompted many blue states to fight to codify or extend access to abortion ahead of the impending decision, which is expected sometime in June. In addition to New Jersey, other states have added legislation that supports access to abortion include Delaware, Hawaii, California and New Mexico. However, many red states took the arguments as an encouraging sign of adopting more anti-abortion legislation.

The Supreme Court case also came on the heels of the most extreme anti-abortion legislation in the country, passed in Texas in September. Texas law prohibits abortion around six weeks of pregnancy and puts private citizens in its place of enforcing it. The enforcement mechanism makes the law very difficult to challenge in court, triggering a domino effect of copycat legislation in other anti-abortion states such as. Arkansas, Ohio, Alabama and other.

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