Updated: Oct 25, 2021
By Brandon McKoy and Oren Jacobson
Across the United States, the anti-abortion movement is led mostly by men, using their power as elected officials to roll back abortion rights and access. Every single state or federal law attacking abortion in this country has been passed by a male-dominated legislature. Meanwhile, pro-choice men have largely sat on the sidelines, believing this isn’t our fight. It’s time for pro-choice men to shed this antiquated view and instead step up as allies in the fight to protect and expand reproductive freedom in New Jersey.
With the latest Supreme Court confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who described Roe v. Wade as a “barbaric” decision, the anti-abortion movement in America is on the cusp of a 40-year goal to overturn Roe, and then ban and criminalize abortion in America. They say this openly, so we must take them at their word.
Some in New Jersey believe that reproductive rights are safe here and that what is happening on the national stage, or in other states, has no effect at home. However, access to affordable birth control and abortion care is still out of reach for hundreds of thousands of people, especially in marginalized communities. And despite New Jersey’s generally supportive stance, doctors, women, and all those who can get pregnant still face medically unnecessary restrictions to abortion. These barriers end up denying New Jersey families access to health care and put the health and well-being of patients at risk.
Beyond the harm and injustice of anti-abortion policies, men must understand that this isn’t just about abortion — it’s about freedom, control, dignity and respect. Every person should be free to control their own bodies and their own lives. Every person deserves the basic dignity to be in control of their own reproductive decisions. We must move beyond, and fundamentally reject, the stigma around abortion, trust that people know what is best for them and their families, and respect whatever medical decisions they make.
This is also about the economic security of New Jersey families. There is no decision that has a greater economic impact on a family than whether or not to have a child. Without action in Trenton, the economic future of many families will be determined, in large part, by the extreme views of a radical fringe. The Legislature must protect the people of this state from that injustice.
Right now in New Jersey, we have the chance to declare that all people, regardless of circumstances, deserve to have access to comprehensive reproductive health care by passing the Reproductive Freedom Act. We have the opportunity to ensure every New Jerseyan has the right to make personal health care decisions without political interference.
We have the opportunity to remove medically unnecessary regulations and unenforceable laws that do not contribute to patient safety. We have the opportunity to end a system of class and race-based discrimination by removing financial barriers so that all people who want or need birth control or an abortion can afford to.
Once the Reproductive Freedom Act goes through the legislative process, one of two stories will be written. The Legislature will have listened to the voters of this state and answered the call to protect reproductive freedom. Or, a few men will have the power to decide that some people in our state don’t deserve to be free, perpetuating a fundamental problem with our society.
As supporters of reproductive freedom, we ask that the New Jersey Legislature, 70% of whom are men, choose to affirm that each person seeking medical care is deserving of dignity and respect. All people deserve the freedom to control their own bodies, lives, and health care.
We ask them to champion economic justice for all. For without reproductive freedom, there is no certain path toward economic security and prosperity for all New Jersey families. And, for those men who don’t see it that way, the people of New Jersey will find new elected officials to represent them.