This story was updated with comment from Marie Tasy at 5:01 p.m.
New Jersey Democrats moved to head off the possibility of federal action limiting the availability of abortion procedures Friday.
Gov. Phil Murphy, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood) announced a bill that would bar out-of-pocket expenses for birth control and abortions, provides legal protections for such procedures and removes existing barriers to obtain such procedures.
“As access to health care and the right to choose are under attack at the federal level, we will support, defend, and protect reproductive rights here in New Jersey,” Murphy said. “The Reproductive Freedom Act will remove barriers to reproductive health, as well as expand access to contraception while reaffirming choice.”
The move comes as Democrats nationwide become increasingly concerned about the possibility of the U.S. Supreme Court issuing a new ruling on Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that made legal abortions the law of the land.
Democrats worry that, if Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed, a court with a 6-3 conservative majority could overturn Roe.
“This legislation delivers on the promise of equitable access to reproductive healthcare for all New Jersey residents,” Weinberg said. “I am proud to stand with Assemblywoman Vainieri-Huttle and the Thrive Coalition in the fight for this essential right.”
The move wasn’t universally celebrated.
New Jersey Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion rights organization, slammed the move, charging it was meant to boost Murphy’s chances at winning re-election.
“Although the proposed legislation is sure to appease the abortion industry and a small minority of Governor Murphy’s pro-abortion supporters to shore up his base for his re-election, this type of extreme measure is not supported by the majority of people in our state or across our nation who support life protective laws and limits on abortion,” Right to Life Executive Director Marie Tasy said. “That is surely why the majority party and Governor will not seek voter approval on this type of measure, but instead seek to act in an autocratic manner to oppress the will of the people.”