New Jersey advances plan to allow midwives to perform early abortions

By: - September 23, 2023 9:53 am

About 30 people rallied for abortion rights on June 29, 2022, outside the Statehouse in Trenton. (Dana DiFilippo | New Jersey Monitor)

Midwives will be able to terminate first-trimester pregnancies under a plan announced Friday by Murphy administration officials aiming to expand abortion access by increasing providers.

The state Board of Medical Examiners, which oversees midwives, proposed a rule this week that would establish the regulatory requirements for certified nurse-midwives and midwives to perform surgical abortions through the 14th week of pregnancy.

Public comments will be accepted until Nov. 17, with commenting instructions posted online here.

The move comes nearly two years after the board in December 2021 eliminated a state requirement that only physicians licensed to practice medicine and surgery in New Jersey could perform abortions.

Cari Fais, acting director of the state Division of Consumer Affairs, said allowing midwives to provide abortions will improve access for New Jersey residents and those traveling from other states where the procedure is banned or restricted.

The number of abortions has risen in New Jersey and other states with supportive abortion laws since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal right to abortion in June 2022.

“For too many people, lack of access to authorized abortion providers is a significant barrier to reproductive health care and can lead to increased risks and costs, and people not receiving the care they need,” Fais said.

The new proposed rule spells out the education and clinical studies midwives must complete to perform the procedure safely and effectively.

New Jersey has almost 450 active certified nurse-midwives and midwives, according to the board’s Midwifery Liaison Committee.

Marie Tasy, who heads New Jersey Right to Life, blasted the plan.

“We certainly don’t support abortion, but I think that any changes that lessen the safety regulations and training required for abortion are to the detriment of women and the state of New Jersey,” Tasy said.

The proposed rule change is the latest in the Murphy administration’s effort to expand abortion access here.

Lawmakers last year passed a law to solidify abortion rights in New Jersey, launched a task force to protect providers and patients and ensure confidentiality of care, and banned the extradition of people who get or give abortions here to states that criminalize the procedure.

The state just this week began requiring health insurance plans provided by employers with at least 50 workers to include coverage for abortions.

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Dana DiFilippo
Dana DiFilippo

Dana DiFilippo comes to the New Jersey Monitor from WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR station, and the Philadelphia Daily News, a paper known for exposing corruption and holding public officials accountable. Prior to that, she worked at newspapers in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and suburban Philadelphia and has freelanced for various local and national magazines, newspapers and websites. She lives in Central Jersey with her husband, a photojournalist, and their two children.