Governor Phil Murphy is proposing mandatory insurance coverage for abortions and a state fund to pay for them.
“We know that without access, rights mean nothing,” Murphy said.
The governor said he was alarmed by a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that suggests a possible end to Roe v. Wade.
“My fears were significant, they were overcome,” Murphy said.
So the governor stepped into action Wednesday with Democratic lawmakers to propose new state protections for reproductive rights and care.
“Abortion is health care, and health care decisions should be left to individuals. Your body belongs to you,” Murphy said.
A state law the governor signed in January already protects a person’s right to an abortion in every corner of New Jersey. But the new measures would be partly designed to help people in other states where abortion could be declared illegal if Roe v. Wade was canceled.
“We will not cooperate with any out-of-state investigation of healthcare providers seeking to punish anyone: patient, provider, counselor, friend, Uber driver, etc.,” Murphy said.
The new laws would include a requirement for insurance companies to pay for all abortions without co-payment. It also includes an already controversial plan to create a state fund that would pay for abortions for the uninsured and underinsured.
“If we want to guarantee the right to abortion, we must guarantee access to abortion,” the governor said.
Republicans who already opposed the earlier Reproductive Freedom of Choice Act balked at Murphy’s proposal. Republican Senate Leader Steve Oroho said in a statement that the governor “wants struggling New Jersey families to pay for abortions for everyone through even higher taxes and health premiums.”
It’s also unclear if Democratic legislative leaders, particularly Senate Speaker Nick Scutari, will support whatever the governor wants to do.
“I suspect everyone in this room is joining me: we need to act,” Murphy said.
The governor also wants new legislation to allow nurses and midwives to perform abortions. This proposal was removed from the final version of the Reproductive Freedom of Choice Act.