A bill ratifying abortion rights has been passed in New Jersey, while an impending US Supreme Court ruling means the future of the choice remains uncertain nationwide.
The Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act was passed in the New Jersey General Assembly by a vote of 46 to 22 on Monday, hours after being passed by a 23 to 15 vote in the state Senate. The bill will be sent to the New Jersey governor’s desk. Phil Murphy, who indicated he would sign it into law immediately.
“A bill to codify a woman’s right to choose into state law and expand access to reproductive health care for all has just been passed by both houses of the legislature,” said Murphy, a Democrat, said In a statement posted on Twitter. “I’ll be signing this bill into law this week. Along Roe vs. Wade Under attack, this bill is needed more than ever.”
The bill guarantees a “fundamental right to reproductive autonomy” and allows “qualified health care professionals”, including certain non-physicians, to perform abortions. It was introduced last week as a scaled-back version of a previous bill known as the Reproductive Freedom Act.
Some abortion-rights advocates have criticized the bill for not going far enough. The original proposal, which lost some support from Democrats after the party lost power in last year’s elections, included a provision that required insurance providers to pay for abortions without out-of-pocket costs.
The new bill allows the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance to optionally conduct a study on the need for insurance coverage. While such a study may later add to the rules requiring insurance coverage, religious exemptions can also be requested by employers who wish to deny coverage.
“At a time when reproductive freedom is on the line, we need to guarantee that abortion is not only legal, but accessible,” Sarah Fajardo, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, said in a statement. Statement, “We must go beyond the status quo and guarantee that abortion is affordable for all New Jerseyans, regardless of insurance access, immigration status, or income.”
Calling for the state to pass additional legislation to protect abortion rights, the New Jersey chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) hailed the bill as a “strong declaration of the full range of reproductive rights.”
“This is a great first step and we should celebrate the passage of this law,” NOW-NJ President Anjali Mehrotra said in a statement. “But New Jersey can do more to improve access to reproductive health care and remove stigma.”
Mehrotra said, “We need to provide more protections for New Jersey’s vulnerable and marginalized population, such as by removing cost barriers to abortion, making medical abortion accessible and without a prescription.” Allowing access to hormonal contraception.”
Abortion rights advocates and opponents have insisted on the state law in anticipation of the possibility that a Supreme Court reversal could end or severely limit national security. Roe vs. Wade later this year.
If the decision is reversed the legal reach of the process could vary greatly across countries. Although New Jersey and some other blue states have taken steps to protect access, at least 20 other mostly Southern and Midwestern states are set to limit or restrict abortion.