With legislative session coming to a close, 17 national organizations pressure Senate President Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Coughlin to pass the Reproductive Freedom Act in its entirety
In a letter released today, the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood Federation of American, National Institute for Reproductive Health, and other national groups sharply call on Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, as well as the New Jersey legislature at large to pass the Reproductive Freedom Act (RFA) in its entirety, especially in light of reported grumblings among lawmakers regarding the RFA’s removal of financial barriers.
As the Supreme Court is poised to overturn or severely weaken the legal right to abortion, the Reproductive Freedom Act (S3030/A4848), which would protect and expand access to abortion care, has been stalled in the Legislature for more than 14 months. The RFA declares the fundamental right to abortion and removes a number of financial barriers to abortion care, which disproportionately impact Black, brown, immigrant, low Income, and LGBTQ+ New Jerseyans.
“Abortion access is overwhelmingly popular in New Jersey and this bill has been stalled long enough at the hands of leadership, especially with Governor Murphy’s commitment to signing it,” said Andrea Miller, President of the National Institute of Reproductive Health. “The RFA, as advocates and champions have proposed it, contains provisions grounded in racial justice and equity to ensure that people who are low-income and undocumented communities have true and meaningful access to abortion care.
“A bill that falls short of addressing these barriers is explicitly and actively excluding the most vulnerable communities in New Jersey,” said Amol Sinha, Executive Director of the ACLU of New Jersey. “Lawmakers have an obligation to ensure that all people who can become pregnant have access to affordable abortion care, regardless of income or immigration status. New Jersey leadership should be jumping at the chance to lead on this opportunity to promote equity in accessing a critical, fundamental right.”
The RFA mandates insurance coverage for abortion care, eliminates out of pocket costs (including deductibles, co-insurance and copays), and provides coverage for abortion for communities who are ineligible for health insurance due to their immigration status.
In New Jersey, most private insurance plans cover abortion services, but even under private insurance plans, out-of-pocket costs are insurmountable for the person seeking care. While Medicaid in New Jersey explicitly covers abortion services, federal law makes undocumented people ineligible for Medicaid coverage.
The FY 2022 budget includes improved resources for the Reproductive Health Fund to cover contraception and prenatal care for New Jerseyans who are not currently eligible for Medicaid coverage due to their immigration status. The RFA simply ensures that abortion care is also covered by the fund. Studies show that when we invest in care, it saves money and improves health outcomes. New Jersey must do better and protect undocumented community members in accessing this fundamental health care.
Organizations signed on to the letter include: All* Above All, American Atheists, American Civil Liberties Union, Catholics For Choice, Center for Reproductive Rights, If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, National Council of Jewish Women, National Health Law Program, National Institute for Reproductive Health, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, National Women's Law Center, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Reproductive Health Access Project.