In Brief

N.J. launches new group to shield abortion patient data

By: - July 11, 2022 10:54 am

An abortion opponent said the move is merely an attempt to raise Gov. Phil Murphy's national profile on the issue. (Dana DiFilippo | New Jersey Monitor)

New Jersey took another step to shield abortion providers and their patients by launching a “strike force” tasked with maintaining confidentiality and otherwise guarding abortion access in the Garden State.

The group, composed of state law enforcement officials, will seek civil and criminal remedies against those who intimidate reproductive health providers or patients seeking their services, ensure compliance with patient confidentiality restrictions, and limit the sharing of patient and provider data following the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade.

“The Supreme Court’s right-wing majority opinion in Dobbs is a devastating setback for women’s rights in America and will harm millions throughout the country,” acting Attorney General Matt Platkin said in a statement Monday. “But make no mistake: Abortion remains legal in New Jersey.”

The U.S. Supreme Court last month in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruled the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee the right to abortion, overturning Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

The strike force will be staffed by individuals in the Department of Law and Public Safety, with representatives from the divisions of Law, Civil Rights, Criminal Justice, and Consumer Affairs, alongside the New Jersey State Police and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor.

Monday’s move follows Gov. Phil Murphy’s July 1 signing of two abortion bills that ban the extradition of out-of-state residents who perform or obtain the procedure in New Jersey to states where abortion is criminalized and bar the release of patient data to such states.

In January, he signed a bill codifying New Jersey’s abortion protections that also requires the Department of Banking and Insurance to perform a study to determine whether the state should issue a mandate requiring insurers to cover the procedure.

Marie Tasy, executive director of New Jersey Right to Life, said Monday’s move is unnecessary and aimed at boosting Murphy’s national profile on the issue of abortion.

“I have been involved in the pro-life movement for 30 years. I have never, ever heard of any situation in New Jersey that warrants this type of action. There have never been any types of attacks or violence by pro-life people outside of abortion clinics,” she said.

She also claimed Murphy’s action was a bid to circumvent the Legislature, where some Democratic lawmakers have been resistant to expanding abortion protections.

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Nikita Biryukov
Nikita Biryukov

Nikita Biryukov most recently covered state government and politics for the New Jersey Globe. His tenure there included revelatory stories on marijuana legalization, voting reform and Rep. Jeff Van Drew's decamp to the Republican Party. Earlier, he worked as a freelancer for The Home News Tribune and The Press of Atlantic City.