By: Carly Truett, Writer / Follow South Jersey Public Health Intern
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story included a headline that said Governor Phil Murphy introduced the Reproductive Freedom Act. This bill was introduced by state senator Loretta Weinberg and assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle. We apologize for this error.
TRENTON, N.J. — Governor Phil Murphy announced last week that New Jersey legislators will introduce the Reproductive Freedom Act to protect and expand reproductive healthcare in the state.
“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,” Gov. Murphy said in a press release on October 2. “The Reproductive Freedom Act will remove barriers to reproductive health, as well as expand access to contraception while reaffirming choice. Together, we stand unwavering in our commitment to work towards reproductive freedom for all New Jerseyans.”
With the support of legislative leaders including Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Assemblywoman Valerie Vaineri Huttle, the Reproductive Freedom Act protects and expands access to essential reproductive services in three notable ways. First, the legislation ensures that all New Jerseyans reserve the right to make their own health decisions in regard to birth control and pregnancy-related care, including abortion. Second, the act removes financial barriers to making these health decisions by requiring private insurance coverage for birth control and abortion, and promotes time-sensitive access to care by ensuring that income and insurance status do not dictate ability to receive care. Third, the Reproductive Freedom Act expands access to care by removing restrictions in access to birth control and pregnancy-related care that are medically unnecessary.
While the Reproductive Freedom Act announcement has already been met with criticism from groups like New Jersey Right to Life and the Catholic Bishops of New Jersey, the legislation’s supporters affirm that it will help address inequities in reproductive healthcare.
“The Reproductive Freedom Act expands and protects access to reproductive health care for all New Jerseyans regardless of income level, immigration status, or gender identity,” Sarah Fajardo, Policy Director of ACLU New Jersey, said in a release. “We’re proud to join Gov. Murphy, Sen. Weinberg, Asw. Huttle, and our fellow advocates in advancing this landmark legislation.”
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.