New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) is expected to sign a bill expanding abortion access in the Garden State this week.
On Monday, the state general assembly and the state senate passed The Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act. The bill now heads to the governor's office to be signed into law.
"A bill to codify a woman's right to choose into state law and expand access to reproductive health care for all just passed both houses of the Legislature," Murphy tweeted on Monday.
"I will sign this bill into law this week. With Roe v. Wade under attack, the need for this bill is more urgent than ever," he added.
According to Newsweek, the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act ensures "the fundamental right of reproductive autonomy" and allows "qualified health care professionals" and non-physicians to perform abortions.
The bill, which was introduced last week, is a reduced version of an earlier bill known as the Reproductive Freedom Act. It enables the state's Department of Banking and Insurance to study the need for insurance coverage in light of future regulations. On the other hand, employers wanting to deny coverage can apply for religious exemptions.
The New Jersey chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) praised the new bill, calling it a "strong declaration of the full range of reproductive rights." The group, however, still urged for more legislation to protect abortion rights.
"This is a great first step, and we should celebrate the passage of this legislation. But New Jersey can and must do more to improve access to reproductive health care and remove stigma, NOW-NJ President Anjali Mehrotra said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the pro-life organization New Jersey Right to Life warned that the broad language in the bill could result in abortions up to the point of birth.
"Because of the broad wording in this bill and the fact that there are no gestational limits anywhere in the bill, this new statute will allow abortions at any point in pregnancy, even if the baby is viable or full term," the group explained. "This will apply to any individual who is present in the state, including non-residents, as well as those who are incarcerated and minor girls in custody or other government programs controlled by the state."
New Jersey Right to Life also noted that the bill supplants other abortion laws that will be passed in the state, meaning that it will prevent "the passage of any new pro-life laws like parental notification, bans on late-term abortion, and even those upheld as constitutionally valid by the U.S. Supreme Court."
The legislation comes as the Supreme Court faces an opportunity to overturn Roe V. Wade, leaving it up to the state to decide whether abortion should be legal.
"At a time when reproductive freedom is on the line, we need to guarantee that abortion is not just legal, but accessible," Sarah Fajardo, the policy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, said in a statement. "We must go beyond the status quo and guarantee that abortion is affordable for all New Jerseyans, regardless of insurance access, immigration status, or income."
As Christian Headlines previously reported, abortion was the leading cause of death worldwide for the second year in a row. In 2021, approximately 42.6 million abortions were performed.
On the other hand, states across the U.S. enacted a record-setting 106 pro-life laws restricting abortions last year.
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.