Pro-abortion N.J. Democrats having second thoughts on Reproductive Freedom Act, or are they merely disguising what they are doing?

By Dave Andrusko

No one would expect a legislature completely and thoroughly dominated by pro-abortion Democrats to waiver in its support for abortion. But the results of the November 2 elections in which New Jersey State Senate President Stephen Sweeney lost to a pro-lifer running on a shoestring campaign budget of a few thousand dollars and saw the Democrats’ 11-vote majority shrink to five in the Assembly, has tempted them to try to hide what they are doing.

Last year Democrats “overwhelmingly supported a bill, the Reproductive Freedom Act, enshrining the protections of the landmark reproductive rights case Roe v. Wade into law and expanding them,” according to Dustin Racioppi  of the North Jersey News

The Act would go beyond Roe v. Wade by requiring health insurers to cover abortions and birth control at no cost out of pocket; easing regulations on late-term abortions, which are rare; and allowing professionals besides doctors, such as advanced practice nurses and midwives, to perform the procedure,” Racioppi explained.

Actually it goes even further than that. Abortions after the 14th week would likely no longer be required to be performed in licensed hospitals and the Conscience Clause law for health care workers would be eliminated.

But going beyond Roe is precisely the point, according to Alejandra Sorto, campaign strategist for the ACLU of New Jersey, which is part of a pro-abortion coalition called Thrive New Jersey. But Democrats are skittish about passing the law when they can accomplish much the same things without potentially paying a political price. 

So there is disingenuous talk about a “watered-down” or “scaled back” version of the Reproductive Freedom Act bill being introduced in next month’s lame-duck session. How would that work?

The state Board of Medical Examiners has already passed new rules:

Those rules, which should take effect soon, lift regulations on abortions that barred them from happening in a doctor’s office beyond 14 weeks of pregnancy and would allow as many as 15,000 nurses, physician assistants and midwives to perform the procedure. 

Because those provisions were included in the Reproductive Freedom Act, lawmakers could pull them and potentially the health insurance requirements, leaving simply a bill codifying a woman’s right to an abortion. 

Which, to be clear, is already extremely radical. But, of course, abortion militants want to pass the even more pro-abortion Reproductive Freedom Act in its entirety.

“We’re going to keep pushing it,” said Anjali Mehrotra, president of the National Organization for Women of New Jersey, which is also part of the Thrive coalition.

Gov. Murphy, according to Racioppi, has not said if he would accept the ploy. 

The governor said he’s had “very good leadership meetings and exchanges” with lawmakers, but it’s still “to be determined when and how this all works out.”