TRENTON, NJ - Today, both houses of the New Jersey State Legislature passed S49/A6260, a bill to protect the right to abortion. Additionally, the Assembly passed S413/A4698, a bill to provide coverage for 12 months of birth control prescriptions all at one time, following the Senate's passage in December.
Both bills are important steps forward in NJ to protect and increase access to the full range of reproductive health care. Following important updates from the Board of Medical Examiners in October 2021 that allow advance practice clinicians to provide abortion care, thereby expanding access to health care, the state today increased access to birth control and enshrined reproductive health care protections into state law.
S49/A6260, new legislation introduced last week, codifies our existing right to abortion into New Jersey state law. This bill also directs the Department of Banking and Insurance to study the existing landscape of insurance coverage of abortion in New Jersey. This bill was introduced after more than a year of advocacy for the Reproductive Freedom Act (S3030/A4848), a bill that not only protected our rights, but also included several provisions to expand access to reproductive health care services for all New Jerseyans. S49/A6260 does not include these provisions, and while it moves our state forward when it comes to protecting rights, it notably still leaves many communities without improved access to abortion.
S413/A4698 requires insurance companies to cover costs for dispensing twelve months of birth control at one time. For birth control to be effective, consistency is critical. For many New Jerseyans who use birth control, whether they are working multiple jobs or have young children to care for, receiving a limited supply of contraceptives can be a hurdle to effective use - for example, requiring repeated trips to their pharmacies or their health care providers. Being able to receive a full year’s worth of contraception at once will decrease barriers to contraceptive access and help New Jerseyans use their birth control method of choice consistently, decrease inconvenience, and reduce health care costs by decreasing unintended pregnancy. This provision was also included in the original Reproductive Freedom Act.
Statement from Kaitlyn Wojtowicz, Vice President of Public Affairs, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey:
“Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey applauds the strong declaration of reproductive rights in S49/A6260, as well as the expansion of birth control access through S413/A4698. This new legislation ensures decisions about contraception, abortion, and carrying a pregnancy to term are protected in state statute. This is a day of celebration in New Jersey. We thank Governor Murphy for advocating so strongly for the original Reproductive Freedom Act, and for working with the 38 legislators in the Senate and Assembly that co-sponsored the bill.
“As the U.S. Supreme Court considers a decision that could overturn Roe v. Wade or render it meaningless, it is an important step for our state legislature to codify our existing right to abortion, currently guaranteed by case law, into statute. These two bills are both steps forward to protect and improve access to reproductive health care in New Jersey. When the Governor signs both of these bills into law, many New Jerseyans will have increased access to birth control and a state law protecting their right to access abortion and birth control. We celebrate this, but the work is far from done.
“S49/A6260 and S413/A4698 exclude provisions from the original Reproductive Freedom Act that ensure all New Jerseyans - including our undocumented community members, individuals who lack insurance coverage, and individuals whose insurance does not cover the cost of abortion care and birth control - can access the reproductive health services they need. These provisions included a mandate for insurance to cover abortion, prenatal care, and birth control without any out-of-pocket costs - breaking down a major financial barrier that many New Jerseyans face. As we have said throughout our advocacy, to exercise one’s right to abortion, contraceptives and carrying a pregnancy to term, one must be able to actually access the full range of health care.
“We will continue educating legislators about the need for greater changes and less stigma around abortion, and our advocacy will not stop. In this next legislative session we look forward to meeting with incoming legislative leaders to chart a path forward ensuring that every New Jerseyan can make their own personal health care decisions, regardless of their income, their immigration status, or their insurance. We implore our legislators to not rest on these two bills passed today. Your work is not done.”
Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey (PPAFNJ) is a nonpartisan 501(c)(4) non-profit social welfare organization, and the advocacy arm of the Planned Parenthood Affiliates in New Jersey. We advocate for access to essential health care through education, activism, voter engagement, grassroots organizing and legislative advocacy. For more information, visit www.ppactionnj.org.