TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -TRENTON, N.J. (AP) – New Jersey Democratic Gov. In anticipation of possible changes to Roe v. Wade’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Phil Murphy signed a bill on Thursday that enshrines abortion rights into the state’s law.
Murphy signed the bill at the end of his first term and fulfilled a campaign promise made in the run-up to his reelection win in November, and shortly after it appeared that the Democratic-led Legislature could not pass the legislation.
“Regardless of whether or not the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, New Jersey’s position on the right to autonomy in reproductive decisions will remain unchanged and clear,” Murphy said during an official signing ceremony in Teaneck, New Jersey.
The final version of the bill omits the requirement for insurance coverage for abortion that some advocates had requested. Instead, it authorizes the state Banking and Insurance Department to examine the issue and possibly adopt regulations should a need be identified.
In addition to the right to abort the bill also defines a right to access contraception as well as the right to carry a pregnancy to term.
According to the Guttmacher Institute (a think tank on reproductive rights), New Jersey joins 14 other states and the District of Columbia that have legal protections for abortions.
In a case in which the court was asked to invalidate a nationwide right to have an abortion which has been in effect for 50 years and an Supreme Court ruling could be issued in June.
The case involves state legislatures across the United States responding to the possibility that the 1973 Roe ruling could undergo major changes. Republican-led legislatures are ready to further restrict or ban abortions outright, and Democratic-controlled ones seek to ensure access to abortion.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, at least 20 states, mostly in the South and Midwest have adopted laws that prohibit or limit abortion should Roe is ruled invalid by the Supreme Court and states decide the issue.
Murphy, who is a New Jersey resident, had supported the bill. However, it was stalled by the Democrat-led Legislature. The majority faced voters in November. Following that the majority lost six Assembly seats and a net loss in the Senate.
“What was happening was that many things came together around the notion that there is a real possibility for the Supreme Court to weaken or reverse abortion rights. Now was the right time to put those legal protections in place,” stated Elizabeth Nash Guttmacher’s state policy analyst.
At at least a half dozen Republican legislators in states across the country said last year they would introduce legislation that is inspired by an Texas law that prohibits abortions within six weeks of conception. The law, which is meant to bypass federal courts and leave enforcement up to the individual rather than the state, is designed to bypass the federal courts.
New Jersey Republicans opposed the legislation.
“This bill and the rhetoric we’ve heard from both side is that abortions can be performed at any time at any time, for any reason,” said Assembly member Jay Webber this week.
Certain Republicans have said that they support women’s right to have an abortion. Most notably, Jack Ciattarelli (the GOP candidate for governor in the last year) stated that he supports the right of women to have an abortion. However, he was against Murphy’s earlier versions of Murphy’s bill, calling it extreme.
Murphy who is a vocal advocate for abortion rights and self-described progressive extended an apology to abortion opponents on Thursday.
He said, “I hope we can all unite in the higher callings of our faiths to make parenting a more secure choice for anyone looking for support.”
Murphy said the signing took place in Teaneck because it’s home to former state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, who was the sponsor of the bill before she resigned from her post earlier this month.
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