Governor Murphy today signed A6260/S49, which declares the right to abortion as part of a strong codification of the right to reproductive autonomy in the Garden State. In the face of national attacks on abortion rights, this legislation protects the right to abortion by strengthening and expanding existing state constitutional legal protections recognized by the New Jersey Supreme Court.
The ACLU-NJ commended Gov. Murphy and the sponsors of the bill for putting this important first step into law, but urged both Gov. Murphy and the Legislature to take swift action to meaningfully expand access to affordable abortion care.
“With Governor Murphy’s signature today, New Jersey reaffirmed and protected the right to abortion. In light of ongoing attacks on reproductive rights across the country, codifying a declaration of strong, unwavering rights is crucial. However, far too many New Jerseyans remain unable to access this fundamental right. We urge our state’s leaders, through legislation and regulatory action, to not only affirm reproductive freedom, but make it truly accessible by lifting financial barriers to ensure we do not leave any communities behind,” said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha.
The ACLU-NJ repeated its long-standing call for the Legislature to ensure access to affordable care through legislation and will continue to advocate for executive action to reduce or eliminate out-of-pocket insurance costs related to abortion and ensure access regardless of immigration status.
“The gap in access to abortion is a racial justice issue, and that lack of access reinforces structural inequities that overwhelmingly harm communities of color and undocumented community members,” said ACLU-NJ Campaign Strategist Alejandra Sorto. “The ACLU-NJ will not waver from the fight to ensure that New Jersey goes beyond declaring the right to abortion and takes meaningful strides to make this critical health care accessible for all New Jerseyans. Without expanding access, New Jersey falls short of advancing equity and racial justice.”
Specifically, the ACLU-NJ recommends that Gov. Murphy:
- Expand reproductive health care services covered by the state to include abortion care and reconfirm full funding for birth control and prenatal care, including for undocumented immigrants, through the budget process;
- Conduct research as part of a legislatively mandated study – from the Department of Banking and Insurance – to assess the need for low-cost health care coverage and the barriers people face because of cost, and ensure both patients and providers are consulted in the study;
- Instruct state and public school health benefits commissions to ensure that their plans provide no-cost or low-cost insurance coverage for abortion and to issue a public report with this information; and
- Encourage insurance plans to cover abortion care immediately, rather than waiting, and encourage them to do so at no cost to the patient.
“The ACLU-NJ thanks Governor Murphy and the bill’s prime sponsors, former Senator Loretta Weinberg and former Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, for recognizing the importance of declaring abortion as the fundamental right it is,” said ACLU-NJ Policy Director Sarah Fajardo. “We call upon Governor Murphy to swiftly use his powers to advance regulatory action necessary to limit insurance costs related to abortion, and to ensure that all New Jerseyans regardless of immigration status are able to access funding support for abortion as needed.”
Additionally, the ACLU-NJ calls upon the newly elected New Jersey State Legislature to take up additional legislation in the 2022-2023 legislative session to expand abortion access by limiting out-of-pocket costs for all New Jerseyans, including those ineligible for health insurance, such as undocumented community members.
“With reproductive freedom at risk nationally, it’s important to reaffirm the right to abortion – but it’s perhaps even more important to expand access. We need to guarantee that abortion is not just legal, but accessible and affordable for all New Jerseyans, regardless of insurance, immigration status, or income,” said ACLU-NJ Legal Director Jeanne LoCicero.