By Joey Fox
Originally published to NJ Globe on December 21, 2021
A group of mostly left-leaning, abortion-focused national groups released a call this morning for Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-South Amboy) and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) to move forward with the Reproductive Freedom Act (RFA), a wide-ranging bill that would codify abortion access in New Jersey.
Among the organizations represented in the group are the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Center for Reproductive Rights, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Institute for Reproductive Health, and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
“Lawmakers have an obligation to ensure that all people who can become pregnant have access to affordable abortion care, regardless of income or immigration status,” ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha said in a statement. “New Jersey leadership should be jumping at the chance to lead on this opportunity to promote equity in accessing a critical, fundamental right.”
The RFA was first introduced in October 2020, but quickly ran into roadblocks in the legislature, with many legislators indicating hesitancy to support some of the bill’s provisions. In addition to codifying Roe v. Wade, the bill would also mandate insurers cover abortions with no out-of-pocket cost and allow non-physician medical professionals to perform certain abortions, among other things.
Because of the difficulties the bill faced in getting to a majority in the Senate and Assembly, it was first delayed to the lame duck session, and now will likely be delayed once again to next year’s legislative session; Sweeney said yesterday that he would not post the bill in its current form, hinting that he did not believe he had the votes to get it passed.