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Assemblyman Herb Conaway. (Photo: Herb Conaway via Facebook).

Conaway signals openness to Murphy abortion plan, but says he hasn’t seen details

As Assembly Health Chair, Conaway would be one of key figures in future abortion debate

By Joey Fox, May 25 2022 10:35 am

Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-Delran), the chair of the Assembly Health Committee, said yesterday that he was supportive of expanding access to abortion in New Jersey, though he wouldn’t yet take a stance on the specific proposals released by Gov. Phil Murphy two weeks ago.

“I think there are certainly abortion access issues that need to be taken up, particularly for poor women,” Conaway said. “If that draft opinion is anywhere close, I think it will represent a tragedy for many women, but particularly poor women and women of color who have less means to get care in general, including care for reproductive health issues.”

Echoing a number of other legislators who have been asked about Murphy’s abortion plans in recent days, Conaway said that he still has not seen any written legislation – a sign that the eventual package of bills is unlikely to move through the legislature before the beginning of the summer recess in July.

“I have not seen any details,” he said. “As [the governor] mentioned during the press conference, he had been in consultation with leadership in the Senate and the Assembly on the outlines of the package, but as far as I’m aware, nothing has been presented by way of implementing legislation.”

Conaway’s counterpart on the Senate Health Committee, State Sen. Joe Vitale (D-Woodbridge), similarly said last week that he won’t take a firm stand one way or another until he knows what the actual contours of the legislation will be. And both Senate President Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden) and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge) have remained mum on the subject, releasing only a broadly worded joint statement in support of abortion on the day of Murphy’s initial announcement.

“Turning back the clock is not the New Jersey way and by codifying 50 years of legal precedent into state law, we have made sure that a woman’s health decisions can and will remain her own,” they said, referencing the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act passed in January. “Together we stand by our decisive action … and will continue working to protect access and ensure no woman is stripped of her right to choose.”

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