By Elizabeth A Meyers
Originally published to TAPInto Morristown on December 2, 2021
NEW JERSEY -- On Wednesday morning, while the United States Supreme Court began hearing arguments on a legal challenge that could overturn the country's landmark Roe v. Wade reproductive rights precedent, Governor Phil Murphy held a virtual press conference with the state's reproductive rights advocates calling for the passage of a state law on similar women's health issues.
The event was part of a "week of action" coordinated by the 70-member Thrive Coalition -- a diverse coalition of organizations fighting for sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice -- to pass the Reproductive Freedom Act during the current legislative session. The group is calling for passage of the Reproductive Freedom Act (Senate Bill 3030 - Assembly Bill 4848) that would protect the right to reproductive health care in New Jersey and expand access to birth control, prenatal care, and abortion by breaking down harmful barriers that prevent people from getting the health care they need.
"This debate (over women's reproductive rights) has turned into legislation in a number of states - not to protect or expand our rights -- but to diminish them," said Murphy who praised New Jersey legislators who, he said, sent the message that "your body belongs to you. The decision on whether and when to start a family is yours. Here in New Jersey, we believe the best way to support families and grow healthy communities is not through mid-evil and controlling reproductive policies but through protecting reproductive freedom."
"New Jersey has an opportunity to meet this moment very clearly by passing the Reproductive Freedom Act and protecting and expanding access to reproductive health care," said Alejandra Sorto, campaign strategist with the ACLU-NJ. "At it's core, the RFA seeks to remove the roadblocks that stand in the way -- particularly for black, brown, LGBTQ and young people in our state.
"The reality in New Jersey, despite strong case that that protects our right to an abortion, this right is meaningless if a person cannot access it. The RFA comes in to remove these barries that push this health care out of reach for too many people," added Sorto.
Murphy also was joined during the event by Janyll C., a New Jersey resident who shared the story of her own abortion experience; Dr. Kristyn Brandi, an OBGYN who is the board chair of Physicians for Reproductive Health and a trustee of the New Jersey Abortion Access Fund; and Assemblywoman Mila Jasey.