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Former Senate President Steve Sweeney. Photo by Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe.

Sweeney signals support for bill expanding abortion availability

By Nikita Biryukov, October 07 2020 12:22 pm

Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) signaled support Wednesday for a bill that would remove certain barriers to obtaining abortions introduced last week.

“The current regime in Washington is moving in a direction that will infringe upon a woman’s right to make their own healthcare decisions,” the senator said. “I am committed to working on a solution to protect the rights of women to reproductive health care and expanding access by breaking down the financial barriers that can put this medical care out of reach for those with limited income or insurance.”

Last week, Gov. Phil Murphy, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood) and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck), a top Sweeney ally, introduced a bill that would bar out out-of-pocket expenses for birth control and abortions, provide legal protections for such procedures and remove existing barriers to obtain such procedures.

The measure came as concern that the U.S. Supreme Court could strike Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case that made legal abortion the law of the land, mount among Democrats and abortion rights activists.

They worry that a court with a 6-3 conservative majority could overturn Roe if Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed.

“At a time when the rights of women and their families to make their own health care decisions are under threat, we want to ensure that those freedoms are protected here in New Jersey without barriers or interference, and regardless of income, zip code or insurance coverage,” Sweeney said.

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