New abortion laws will make N.J. a ‘beacon of freedom for every American woman,’ governor says

By: - July 1, 2022 3:05 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy speaking in Jersey City on July 1, 2022, before signing two bills that will protect anyone getting or providing an abortion in New Jersey. (Edwin J. Torres/NJ Governor’s Office)

Two bills aimed at protecting anyone who provides or obtains an abortion in New Jersey were signed into law Friday by Gov. Phil Murphy, who used the signing ceremony to attack the “right-wing majority that controls the U.S. Supreme Court.”

The bills were introduced after it became clear the nation’s high court intended to overturn Roe v. Wade, a decision that has led to new abortion restrictions or outright bans in 20 states. The Legislature passed them both Wednesday, largely along party lines.

“This is a day that none of us thought could happen, or would happen,” Murphy said at a signing ceremony in Jersey City. “The fact that we have to do what we’re doing today says so much about where we are right now as a country.”

Murphy has tried to get the Legislature to pass other bills that would increase access to abortion — including one that would require insurance companies to cover the procedure — but he’s had trouble convincing enough members of his own party to sign on for them to win passage.

One of the bills he signed Friday bans the extradition of people who get or perform abortions in New Jersey to states that criminalize the procedure. The other prohibits public agencies in the state from assisting in investigations in other states that criminalize abortion and bars abortion providers from releasing patient information to those states without written consent from the patient.

Several anti-abortion groups have joined with Republican state lawmakers to advance plans to prosecute people in states where abortion is banned from obtaining the procedure elsewhere, the Washington Post reported this week.

“These laws will make New Jersey a beacon of freedom for every American woman,” Murphy said. “And to those states whose enmity towards a woman’s right to an abortion has now turned into outright hostility, and who will attempt to use the court’s already egregious ruling to prosecute a woman for having the audacity to practice autonomy over her own body, we say, no way, no how, not here.”

Sen. Nia Gill (D-Essex), a prime sponsor of both bills, said supporters of abortion rights must be prepared to defend all rights because “we cannot depend on the Supreme Court of the United States to protect us.”

“The Supreme Court made it clear the rights founded on the same principle of privacy, including marriage equality, access to contraceptives, and the sanctity of family relationships, are all under threat,” she said. “An attack on one of these rights is an attack on all of our rights. Equality is like air — either we all have it, or none of us have it.”

Justice Clarence Thomas issued a solo concurrence in the decision urging his colleagues to reconsider the court’s prior rulings on same-sex marriage, contraceptive access, and sodomy laws.

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, a Democrat, praised Murphy for being a champion for “people that don’t have voices to advocate for themselves.”

“When we’ve seen tough, tough narratives coming out of Washington, D.C., it’s been Governor Murphy who has stood up for working families, for immigrants, and in this case for women,” Fulop said.

Murphy also signed a controversial bill that will allow for the redevelopment of Jersey City’s Liberty State Park, a measure opposed by park advocates who fear it will allow Paul Fireman, a billionaire who owns an exclusive golf club adjacent to the park, to realize a longstanding desire to expand his golf course into the park. Supporters of the bill say it will simply give the state a chance to add recreational and athletic facilities to the 1,200-acre park.

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Terrence T. McDonald
Terrence T. McDonald

Editor Terrence T. McDonald is a native New Jerseyan who has worked for newspapers in the Garden State for more than 15 years. He has covered everything from Trenton politics to the smallest of municipal squabbles, exposing public corruption and general malfeasance at every level of government. Terrence won 23 New Jersey Press Association awards and two Tim O’Brien Awards for Investigative Journalism using the Open Public Records Act from the New Jersey chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. One politician forced to resign in disgrace because of Terrence’s reporting called him a "political poison pen journalist.”