Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill today allowing patients to acquire over-the-counter contraceptives with no prescription, finally putting into law a proposal that had been languishing in the state legislature for more than seven years.
“[This bill is] a guarantee that every woman can obtain birth control from a New Jersey pharmacy without a prescription – that’s a big deal,” Murphy said at a signing ceremony in Trenton. “In New Jersey, we trust every woman to make these decisions for herself, period, full stop.”
The bill was first introduced in 2015 by State Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Lawrence), who continued pushing for it every legislative session until it finally passed the full legislature in December of last year. The vote was 29-8 in the Senate and 64-14 in the Assembly, with a number of Republicans joining the entire Democratic caucus in support.
“This could not have happened without all of us working hard to try to protect a woman’s right to choose,” Turner said today. “Now, in New Jersey, we can proudly say that we have finally freed the pill.”
Murphy has made abortion access a central tenet of his term as governor, particularly in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning the constitutional right to abortion. One year ago to the day, Murphy signed a bill codifying abortion rights in New Jersey, and he spent much of 2022 pushing for further policies that would make reproductive health care more widely available.
This year, however, Murphy is also tasked with leading the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), which in 2023 means trying to win or retain governorships in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Kentucky. That may involve supporting self-described pro-life candidates like Brandon Presley, the leading Democratic contender for governor of Mississippi.
Murphy said in a press gaggle after today’s ceremony that he’s already been down this road before – he was DGA chairman when Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a conservative Democrat, was up for re-election in 2019 – but that it’s too early to know what the races this year will look like.
“It’s too early to say who the candidates will be in either state right now,” the governor said. “Too early to tell, but also, I want to get Democrats elected governor.”