By Phil Murphy and Loretta Weinberg
This week, women in New Jersey and across our nation faced what had once seemed like an unlikely threat — their constitutional right to reproductive health care endangered by the United States Supreme Court.
With the Supreme Court’s decision not to block the nation’s most restrictive anti-abortion law in Texas, millions of women in the Lone Star State have lost the right to reproductive care. The court will hear Mississippi’s case this October and, based on their actions this week, it is clear that women across the nation are at risk of losing their right to safe, legal abortions and reproductive care. This imperils their right to keep lifesaving medical care decisions between them and their doctor.
This dangerous law goes beyond depriving a woman of her constitutional rights. It criminalizes private citizens — from doctors to Uber drivers — who assist a woman with exercising those rights. It encourages neighbors to turn against neighbors, and it prevents care providers and even loved ones from helping those in need. What is worse is that this law was written as a guide for other states to follow.
The Trump-majority Supreme Court is setting a dangerous precedent that puts millions of women at risk. It is a decision to take away rights, the results of which will limit reproductive choice and endanger the health of women. We know who overwhelmingly bears the true burden of these efforts — the most vulnerable, those living in poverty, and our Black and brown communities.
As Trump’s Supreme Court abandons its responsibility, leadership in our states has never mattered more. Because we’ve seen firsthand what happens when the pressure of political interests reverses the course of women’s rights in New Jersey.
Under Gov. Chris Christie’s eight-year-long effort to starve critical funding from women’s health care, New Jerseyans were hurt. Tens of thousands of residents lost their point of access to quality, affordable health care. Rates of sexually transmitted diseases increased. Rates of cervical cancer and breast cancer, especially among women of color and in disadvantaged communities, increased.
Nearly four years ago, we turned our back on this failed way of thinking, restoring funding for Planned Parenthood and family planning services statewide. We cannot have a stronger and fairer New Jersey unless we guarantee access to reproductive and family planning services, critical cancer screenings, and prenatal care to everyone, in every community of our state. It is why we unequivocally believe that choice can no longer be a matter of case law in New Jersey — it must be state law.
Now is the time to pass the Reproductive Freedom Act and protect reproductive justice for all.
This legislation says plainly to all New Jerseyans: You have a right to make decisions with your doctors. You have a right to access lifesaving health care. You have a right to choose.
We can’t go back.
Phil Murphy is the governor of New Jersey.
Loretta Weinberg is the majority leader of the New Jersey State Senate.