Murphy signs laws making NJ a ‘safe haven’ for abortion
JERSEY CITY – Gov. Phil Murphy enacted two laws Friday shielding people who receive and provide reproductive health care services from lawsuits and other interventions from states where abortion is illegal.
The protections against extradition and information sharing protect patients from other states who may travel to New Jersey for abortions, as well as New Jersey residents.
And they protect providers from losing their state professional licenses or registrations solely for providing services legal in New Jersey but not elsewhere, as well as shielding them – and anyone tangentially involved, including rideshare drivers – from any abortion-related extradition sought by another state.
“This is a day that none of us wished could happen or would happen,” Murphy said before signing the bills at the Pershing Field Community Center. “The fact that we have to do what we’re doing today just says so much about where we are right now as a country.”
Abortion is already legal in New Jersey, made permanent under a law enacted in January when it appeared likely the Supreme Court would overturn its 1972 decision in Roe v. Wade that provided for abortion rights.
But state lawmakers responded to the ruling by passing the two new laws Wednesday, as well as by adding $5 million to the budget for reproductive health security grants. Murphy said the budget has more than $30 million for family planning and reproductive health services.
“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 body, we say: No way, no how. Not here.”
He then held up his left hand and pointed it upwards.
“We may even introduce you to our state bird,” quipped Murphy, who was actually extending all his fingers and not just the middle one, eliciting laughter and some applause. “We’ll leave it at that. Upon advisement from counsel, we’ll leave it there. I overrode the censors to sneak that in.”
The bills – A3974/S2642 and A3975/S2633 – passed primarily through Democratic votes, with a smattering of Republican support.
Here's a look at how lawmakers voted on each bill. The Senate votes are shown, then the Assembly, with Democrats shaded in blue and Republicans shaded in red.
“These bills do not reverse the crisis we are in,” said Assemblywoman Lisa Swain, D-Bergen. “Like all of you, I am grieving over the current state of our country and overwhelmed with compassion and worry for the individuals whose freedoms are being directly eliminated. No one should be forced to flee their home state in search of essential care. But I am glad with this legislation now being signed into law, we can at least be a safe haven.”
Sen. Nia Gill, D-Essex, said the ruling jeopardizes other rights recognized by the same principle of privacy, including same-sex marriage and access to contraceptives.
“An attack on one of these rights is an attack on all of our rights,” Gill said. “Equality is like air. Either we all have it, or none of us have it.”
The bill signing ceremony was held shortly after an event in which President Joe Biden met virtually with 10 Democratic governors on abortion rights. Murphy did not participate in that meeting.
Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at email@example.com
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