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Activists urge movement on Reproductive Freedom Act

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

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