By Nikita Biryukov
Originally published to New Jersey Globe on April 23, 2021
A swath of activists urged state lawmakers to advance the Reproductive Freedom Act, which remains stalled more than six months after its introduction last October.
The groups, including the state branches of the National Organization of Women and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, among dozens of others, called on the legislature to advance the bill, which would enshrine abortion rights protections in state statute.
“The Reproductive Freedom Act removes logistical barriers by updating and repealing medically unnecessary, harmful regulations that regulate abortion differently from any other medical procedure and restrict access to care,” they said. “It will update New Jersey’s regulations to meet current medical best practices, allowing highly qualified and experienced medical professionals to perform abortions, expanding availability.”
The bill, introduced to codify abortion protections amid a 6-3 conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, has stalled as lawmakers question the whether it is needed.
A 1982 New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that cites Roe guarantees the legality of abortion in the state, though supporters of the Reproductive Freedom Act fear it might be overturned if the federal court rules against Roe.
“New Jersey has made strides towards protecting reproductive health, and this bill will be another step in the right direction. We must pass the Reproductive Freedom Act to protect and expand access to reproductive health care in New Jersey today,” the group said. “State legislative leaders must act now, not if — or more likely when — abortion access becomes even further eroded. Now is not the time to rest on our laurels; now is the time to pass the Reproductive Freedom Act.”
The delays aren’t an indication that the bill is dead. It’s still got its supporters within the legislature, including Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, who last month told the New Jersey Globe she hopes to see the bill passed by the end of the year.
The following individuals signed onto the statement urging the bill’s passage:
Helen Archontou, YWCA NNJ
Regina Branca, Carol Loscalzo, Unitarian Society of Ridgewood’s Reproductive Justice Team
Navneet Bhalla, Manavi
Sarah Blaine, JD, New Jersey Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Julie Blumenfeld, New Jersey Affiliate of the American College of Nurse Midwives.
Leslie Bockol, Mara Novak, NJ 11th For Change
Pamela Brug, MD, New Jersey Black Women Physician Association
Judy Buckman, Anita Mancini, South Jersey NOW, Alice Paul Chapter
Erin Chung, Women for Progress
Cresandra Corbin, MD, Rachel Rosenberg, MD, Reproductive Health Access Project – New Jersey Chapter
Jada Grisson, Sara Spagnoletti, New Jersey Abortion Access Fund
Christine Soyong Harley, SIECUS
Debra Hauser, Advocates for Youth
Brittany Holom-Trundy, New Jersey Policy Perspective
Nadia Hussain, MomsRising
Carol Loscalzo, Nicole Schultz, Unitarian Universalist FaithAction New Jersey, Reproductive Justice Task Force
Jamie L. Manson, Catholics for Choice
Anjali Mehrotra, National Organization for Women of New Jersey
Andrea Miller, National Institute for Reproductive Health
Nicole Morella, NJ Coalition to End Domestic Violence
Nedia Morsy, Make the Road New Jersey, Youth Power Project
MJ O’Leary, Chair, Women and Family Issues Committee, League of Women Voters of New Jersey
Phoebe Pollinger, National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section
Bari-Lynne Schwarz, National Council of Jewish Women, Bergen County Section
Lisa Shelby, MPH, HiTOPS, Inc.
Roxanne Sutocky, Cherry Hill Women’s Center
Noelle Tutunjian, Stanton Strong
Penny M. Venetis, Director, International Human Rights Clinic, Rutgers Law School
Loretta Winters, Gloucester County NAACP
Jill Wodnick, Speaking of Birth
Kaitlyn Wojtowicz, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey