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Planned Parenthood Action Fund, National Institute for Reproductive Health Action Fund, other national groups, disappointed at legislative leadership missing opportunity, failing New Jersey and U.S.

For more than 240 days, New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin have failed their constituents by blocking the Reproductive Freedom Act (S3030/A4848), a bill to protect and expand access to reproductive health care including prenatal care, abortion, and birth control.

With the Supreme Court’s recent decision to review a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, Sweeney and Coughlin’s inaction has left New Jersey’s abortion access vulnerable to a potentially devastating blow. Rather than responding to this threat, legislative leadership is perpetuating anti-abortion stigma and obstructing a bill to ensure access remains in the state  — despite the fact that two-thirds of New Jersey voters support the legislation, and over half the Democrats in the Assembly are signed on as co-sponsors.

Governor Phil Murphy has publicly committed to signing the Reproductive Freedom Act into law. And while both chambers are controlled by those who say they support sexual and reproductive health, they’ve continued to stymie efforts to expand abortion access.  

New Jersey is falling behind other states. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books that explicitly protect the right to abortion. Some, like New York and Vermont, just passed those laws recently. Meanwhile, 549 abortion restrictions have been introduced in 47 state legislatures this year alone, including 165 abortion bans as of June 7. Seventeen states have so-called “trigger” bans and/or pre-Roe abortion bans that could go into effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned or weakened. And New Jersey’s legislative leadership has refused to take action, instead aligning themselves with extremists who continue to spread anti-abortion misinformation and stigmatize people for seeking basic reproductive health care.

Senate President Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Coughlin must stop making excuses and advance the Reproductive Freedom Act right away.

Quotes for Attribution

Alexis McGill Johnson, president, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

At a crucial moment for abortion rights nationwide when access to abortion is hanging by a thread, it is unacceptable that New Jersey’s leaders have gone from merely dragging their feet on the Reproductive Freedom Act (RFA) to actively obstructing it — and are echoing the shameful anti-abortion rhetoric of our opponents to boot. This bill provides critical protection for all reproductive choices, including abortion. It is what two-thirds of New Jerseyans want and is similar to legislation that has already been passed in more than a dozen states. With Roe in the balance, New Jerseyans deserve leaders who support them and their families and will do everything possible to shore up protections and expand access. It’s far past time to pass the RFA. It is shameful that legislative leadership is allowing stigma to outweigh access to essential health care for their constituents.”

Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health Action Fund (NIRH Action Fund):

Elected leaders in New Jersey have an obvious and critical opportunity to serve their constituents by protecting and expanding access to reproductive health care, including abortion, by passing the Reproductive Freedom Act. New Jerseyans need and deserve better access to care, public support is unequivocally strong, and the governor is ready to sign the Reproductive Freedom Act into law. That any elected leader would willfully ignore the needs of their constituents and a straightforward opportunity to pass great policy is not only a shame, but incredibly harmful to those who are currently seeking abortion care and those who will seek it in the future.

Morgan Hopkins, Director of Political Strategies, All* Above All Action Fund:

With abortion access on the line across the country, this is the time for action and bold leadership. New Jersey has an opportunity to take proactive steps to ensure access to reproductive health care, including abortion, by passing the historic Reproductive Freedom Act. This is especially important to people of color and those working to make ends meet -- no one should be denied care based on how much they earn, who they are, or where they’re from. New Jersey leaders should prioritize the Reproductive Freedom Act. Abortion justice can't wait.

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Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational, advocacy, and electoral activity, including grassroots organizing, legislative advocacy, and voter education.

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