What Happens to Abortion in NJ if Roe v. Wade is Overturned?
TRENTON – The prospect that Roe v. Wade will be overturned within months, as evidenced by a draft Supreme Court opinion that isn’t a final decision, would cause a huge change nationally but have little to no immediate impact in New Jersey.
A state law enacted in January, when it was evident the Supreme Court was leaning toward overturning abortion rights nationally, codifies the right to an abortion in New Jersey, which doesn’t have some of the restrictions on the procedure that exist in other states.
“Quite frankly, and I would say sadly, while enraging this news is hardly surprising,” Gov. Phil Murphy said, at an unrelated event Tuesday. “This is exactly why we took the step that we did earlier this year in enshrining every New Jerseyan’s full reproductive rights into state law.”
“If the court indeed does take this awful step, this decision will have no impact on New Jersey state law or the full right to reproductive freedom under our state law,” he said. “This remains fully intact because here in New Jersey, instead of hoping for the best, we prepared ourselves for the worst.”
The Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act enacted in January was less expansive than it had been in its initial incarnation, which had been delayed in the Legislature for more than a year after its introduction.
The law permits advanced practice nurses, physician assistants and midwives to perform first-trimester abortions. But rather than require insurance coverage for abortion, the legislation was revised to direct the state Department of Banking and Insurance to conduct a study, which is now underway.
Nicole Rodriguez, research director for New Jersey Policy Perspective, said the state can do more to make abortions accessible.
“Rights alone are not enough, especially for those for whom health care is too expensive and out-of-reach,” Rodriguez said. “State lawmakers should meet this pivotal moment by removing all remaining barriers to abortion so everyone — regardless of their health insurance or income — can access this medical care with dignity.”
“There is much more to do in New Jersey to ensure that everyone – regardless of income, insurance coverage, or immigration status – can access the care they need to make their own personal decisions about their bodies and their lives,” said Kaitlyn Wojtowicz, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey:
Murphy urged Congress to pass a law enacting the right to an abortion and encouraged the Senate to change the rules for the filibuster if needed to do so.
“We must ensure that every American woman has the freedom that every New Jersey woman has,” Murphy said.
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., called overturning Roe v. Wade, which was decided in 1973, “an outrageous attack on Americans’ most fundamental rights.”
“In recent years Republican officeholders have accelerated their longstanding effort to control, criminalize, and dehumanize people’s most personal reproductive health decisions. Already, 13 states have laws on the books that would automatically ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned. And it’s clear that Republicans in Congress are preparing to outlaw and criminalize all abortions nationwide,” Booker said.
“Abortion is health care, and it’s the federal government’s mandate to protect people’s most fundamental rights,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-Manchester, a longtime abortion critic, said the Supreme Court “seems poised to take a powerful step towards empowering elected representatives to protect the weakest and most vulnerable.”
“I join millions of Americans who are hopeful that government-sanctioned violence against babies and the exploitation of women by abortion is nearing an end—although in a very real way, the struggle to defend children in the womb and offer tangible assistance to their mothers now enters a critically important new phase,” Smith said.