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This bill ensures that women have equity and access to abortion in New Jersey | Opinion

By Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, D-27 Originally published on on June 29, 2022.

With the disastrous reversal of Roe v. Wade last Friday, for the first time in the history of our republic, my daughter and granddaughters have fewer rights than I did. The Supreme Court ignored 50 years of settled law and removed from women across the land the fundamental right to privacy and autonomy over our bodies and our lives.

Abortion did not become the divisive, contentions flashpoint it is today for nearly a decade following Roe, when the far-right seized on it in a concerted effort to erode decades of progress for women and minorities. They choose to interpret the Constitution through what they believe to be the lens of our Founding Fathers and the way of life that existed in post-Revolutionary America.

As Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority, “there is no mention of abortion in the Constitution.” It should be noted there is also no mention of African American rights except their 3/5 value as a taxable property asset until the 13th Amendment, and no mention of women until the 19th Amendment. In post-Revolutionary America women were the property of their husbands and fathers; looks like that is where Justice Alito thinks we belong.

New Jersey women face no imminent risk — at least not yet. We enacted the Reproductive Freedom of Choice Act that codified Roe into statute and added the additional protections of our state court decisions in January. We did so pre-emptively, so no New Jersey woman would have to face the absolute terror women in other states did as appointments were canceled, I.V.s removed and anesthesia stopped flowing.

We never imagined the other doors the high Court seemingly stands poised to reopen.

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Our long-standing concerns about equity and access that must accompany reproductive freedom led to the introduction of the Reproductive Freedom Access bill in both houses of our Legislature (S-2918/A-4350). This measure is designed to ensure that all women have full access to reproductive health care, including prenatal care, contraceptives and abortion regardless of income or immigration status. We aim to accomplish this through mandatory insurance coverage with no co-pays or out-of-pocket costs and expanded trained medical personnel to provide these services.

As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg said at her Senate hearing “The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity. … When government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.”

Thirteen states have trigger laws banning abortion, with nine expected to follow, all without regard to rape, incest or fear for a mother’s life. It is often said that anti-abortion advocates are pro-birth, yet these same states fail to provide women, many of whom are single and poor, with the economic support to end the cycle of poverty that will follow. Wealthy women have the means to obtain quality care; as always, poor women are on their own.

Were this not enough, what is most frightening is the very real danger this is merely the beginning. The move for a national abortion ban is well underway. Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurrence chillingly calls for laws on contraceptives and marriage equality to be revisited. These issues loom large before us — it is no longer a matter of if, but when. Upon completing the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin is believed to have presciently said, we have a republic, if we can keep it. It falls upon us to make certain we do, and it begins here in New Jersey with the enactment of the Reproductive Freedom of Access Act.

Assemblywoman Mila Jasey represents the 27th Legislative District, which includes parts of Essex and Morris counties. She is the lead sponsor of the Reproductive Freedom of Access bill and a prime sponsor of the Reproductive Freedom of Choice Act.

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