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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Murphy, Ciattarelli, trade jabs on abortion

By Nikita Biryukov, May 20 2021 4:25 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy is looking to reintroduce family planning as a campaign issue in this year’s gubernatorial race.

The incumbent on Thursday launched an attack aimed at Jack Ciattarelli over the GOP gubernatorial frontrunner’s opposition to funding with taxpayer dollars abortion procedures and agencies that provide them.

“The Assemblyman has thrown his weight behind an anti-choice agenda that is out-of-touch and would drag New Jersey backward,” Murphy campaign spokesman Jerrel Harvey said. “Voters will support the candidate with a demonstrated track-record of protecting their reproductive rights, not selling them out to the far-right.”

Ciattarelli charged the governor was an extremist of a different kind.

“If you are looking for proof that Governor Murphy is an extremist on abortion, look no further than his large Democrat majorities in the State Senate and State Assembly refusing to move his abortion bill,” he said. “They know this kind of extremist approach won’t sit well with middle-of-the-road New Jerseyans.”

The Reproductive Freedom Act, a bill that would codify abortion protections in state law, remove funding and regulatory barriers to the procedure, among other thing.

The bill has stalled in the legislature as some Democratic lawmakers question whether it is needed. Abortion protections already exist in the state’s case law, though pro-choice advocates are concerned a U.S. Supreme Court with a 6-3 conservative bent could erode protections provided by Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationally.

Still, sources in the legislature insist there are enough votes to pass the bill, which is expected to be sent to Murphy’s desk during this year’s lame duck session.

The governor’s campaign also made an attempt to link Ciattarelli’s stance on the issue to that of other prominent Republicans.

“The fact is Assemblyman Ciattarelli stands in lockstep with Donald Trump and Chris Christie in defunding women’s health care and restricting reproductive freedom,” Harvey said.

The Republican camp took it as a sign the governor had political ambitions that extended past New Jersey.

“If Governor Murphy wants to run against former Governor Christie or President Trump so bad, he ought to toss his name in the ring for president in 2024,” Ciattarelli said. “He’ll have plenty of time after November.”

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