New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy proposed Wednesday to increase access to abortion care statewide and offer legal sanctuary to women coming from places with more restrictive rights.
His plan calls for new legislation to mandate insurance coverage for abortion procedures, create a fund for uninsured women and protect medical providers from out-of-state legal actions. But the full details or how much the governor wants to put into the reproductive health care fund are unclear. Versions of his legislation have yet to be released.
“Taking these steps will not only ensure that all women have access to the reproductive rights enshrined in New Jersey law but will also, and just as importantly, send a message to women across the nation that we will simply not go backwards,” Murphy said during a press conference in Trenton.
Murphy’s announcement comes a week after a leaked draft opinion showed the U.S. Supreme Court is leaning toward overturning Roe v. Wade. Earlier this year, the governor and New Jersey lawmakers codified the right to an abortion into the state constitution. But Murphy wants to bring back a key provision that didn’t make it into the final law: mandating coverage by insurance companies.
“A person's ability to access abortion care should not depend on how much money they make,” Murphy said. “If we're going to guarantee the right to an abortion, we need to guarantee access to an abortion.”
State Senate President Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, said they stood by the legislature’s decision to guarantee a women’s right to choose but did not commit to supporting Murphy’s proposals.
“Turning back the clock is not the New Jersey way and by codifying 50 years of legal precedent into state law, we have made sure that a woman’s health decisions can and will remain her own,” they said in a statement released Wednesday. “Together we stand by our decisive action, agreeing that Trump’s appointees to the [Supreme] Court are radically anti-democratic, and will continue working to protect access and ensure no woman is stripped of her right to choose.”
Murphy also vowed on Wednesday that the state would not participate in any interstate legal actions against New Jersey’s abortion providers. Some restrictive states are seeking ways to punish anyone who assists their residents toward getting abortion or abortion pills.
“We will not be cooperating with any out of state investigation into health care providers that seek to punish anyone: Patient, provider, counselor, friend, Uber driver…for providing abortion care,” Murphy said.