New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has approved a regulation change that allows physicians’ assistants, nurses and midwives to perform abortions.
Last week, the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners unanimously approved new rules that the Office of New Jersey Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck insists will “eliminate medically unnecessary regulations on abortion in New Jersey and … open new avenues for reproductive healthcare services across the state.”
Specifically, the changes repeal “the Termination of Pregnancy rule” that the agency believes “singles out abortion care for targeted regulation” by “requiring that all terminations of pregnancy be performed only by a physician, and barring office-based terminations beyond 14 weeks gestation.”
The change in regulation will also enable “Advanced Practice Nurses, Physician Assistants, and Certified Nurse Midwives and Certified Midwives to perform early aspiration terminations of pregnancy.”
“At a time when other states are creating roadblocks to reproductive health and abortion care, New Jersey is working to expand access to these vital services, especially for communities facing, systemic, economic, and logistical barriers to care,” Murphy said in a statement. “Reproductive freedom and equal access to health care are the right of all New Jerseyans and I applaud the Board for acting to protect both today.”
Bruck praised New Jersey’s commitment to “ensuring our residents have access to the health services they need.” He thanked the Board of Medical Examiners for “carefully considering the evidence and reaching a decision that puts the health of New Jerseyans first.”
“Today’s action eliminates medically unnecessary rules that have disproportionately limited healthcare access for people of color and underserved communities,” Bruck added.
Sean Neafsey, acting director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, predicted that “thousands of qualified and trusted providers in our state will now be allowed to play a role in expanding abortion access.” He argues that “residents will have enhanced choices and more timely access to essential reproductive health care.”
The new regulations are set to take effect in the coming months upon the publication of the adoption notice in the New Jersey Register. The policy changes constitute one provision of the Reproductive Freedom Act, a bill currently under consideration in the New Jersey legislature.
First floated last year as Amy Coney Barrett’s likely confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court caused concern that the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade would be overturned, the Reproductive Freedom Act would codify the right to abortion into state law. Additionally, the bill would require insurance companies to cover abortions and contraception at no cost to patients.
Marie Tasy, the executive director of the pro-life advocacy group New Jersey Right to Life, characterizes the Reproductive Freedom Act as an “extreme, shameful bill.”
In a recent op-ed, Tasy warned that “because the Act is noticeably silent on any gestational limits, the Act will permit these abortions to be performed during all stages of pregnancy, even if these babies are viable and at full-term.”
Tasy also expressed concern that the bill would “invalidate the long-standing Conscience Clause law for health care workers, forcing them to now perform and assist in abortions even if it goes against their religious, moral or philosophical beliefs.”
While New Jersey is an overwhelmingly Democratic state where a majority of residents have expressed support for legal abortions in some or all cases, the Reproductive Freedom Act has stalled. The bill has yet to receive a committee hearing more than a year after its introduction in both chambers and with the legislative session set to conclude in less than three months.
In a previous interview with the New Jersey Globe, State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, the primary sponsor of the bill, attributed the stall to the fact that some lawmakers “don’t think we really have to do this now.” Senate President Steve Sweeney indicated that “a lot of the things in the bill already exist in statute in New Jersey right now.”
Murphy’s approval of the new rules comes as the New Jersey gubernatorial election is set to take place in less than two weeks.
A poll conducted this month by the Democratic polling firm Schoen-Cooperman Research found Murphy leading his Republican opponent, Jack Ciattarelli, by 9 percentage points. New Jersey is one of two states, along with Virginia, holding gubernatorial and state legislative races this year.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org