by Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro Published in the Jersey Journal
No matter how much progress we have made as a nation in terms of expanding access to reproductive health care, it always seems like we’re one election or one Supreme Court justice nominee away from unraveling all of it. It’s time to put that fear aside in New Jersey and pass the Reproductive Freedom Act. The Reproductive Freedom Act would codify existing state laws that ensure every individual has a fundamental right to choose or refuse contraception, choose whether to carry a pregnancy, and ensure that no public entity will interfere with an individual’s fundamental right to make their own decisions about reproductive health care. This legislation explicitly spells out protections for all New Jerseyans, including transgender and non-binary individuals. The decision about whether and when to become a parent is one of the most personal life decisions that someone can make. When someone makes the decision to have an abortion, we need to ensure that it is safe, affordable and free from punishment or judgment from our government. As we prepare for the frightening possibility of a far right-leaning United States Supreme Court, the Reproductive Freedom Act reinforces that the New Jersey Constitution protects the right to abortion and reproductive autonomy. Most importantly, it requires all insurance carriers operating in our state to provide coverage for these services. It has received support from a broad coalition, including the ACLU of New Jersey, National Institute for Reproductive Health, and many other national and statewide advocacy organizations and think tanks. When Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg died in September, it became clear that now more than ever, access to reproductive health is at risk in this country. I’m proud to sponsor this legislation to send the message that New Jersey needs to lead the charge to protect affordable access to health care. This bill lets it be known: New Jersey stands for freedom, compassion, and healthy communities, and our state will continue to ensure that no matter what threats you hear at every election, New Jersey’s proven track record of supporting reproductive health will continue. Please ask your representatives to join me in supporting the Reproductive Freedom Act today. Annette Chaparro, a Democrat, represents the 33rd District in the New Jersey Assembly. The district covers all of Hoboken, Union City and Weehawken as well as portions of Jersey City.