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Senate Majority Leader Ruiz Introduces New Legislative Package to Bolster Reproductive & Bodily Autonomy Rights

Trenton, NJ — The right to make decisions over your own body, life, and future, without coercion or violence, is a basic human right. New Jersey stands out as one of the strongest and most progressive states in protecting a woman’s right to choose and upholding bodily autonomy rights. In 2022, New Jersey enacted the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act, which codified into state law an individual’s right to make their own decisions concerning reproduction. This includes the right to contraception, the right to terminate a pregnancy, and the right to carry a pregnancy to term, all without government interference or fear of prosecution.

“In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision and its impact nationally, now more than ever we must continue to protect reproductive healthcare and bodily autonomy rights,” said Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz. “Every individual deserves the right to make decisions about their own body, life, and future without interference or fear. Our new legislative package reaffirms our commitment to ensuring these fundamental human rights are upheld and protected for generations to come. These measures will ensure that all individuals have the freedom to make decisions about their own bodies and futures. Together, we will continue to lead the nation in upholding and advancing reproductive healthcare and bodily autonomy rights.”

The current state of reproductive and bodily autonomy rights in the nation has become highly fragmented and contentious since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Today, 14 states have made a woman’s right to choose illegal, with an additional other states severely restricting woman’s rights, leaving millions without access to healthcare.

That is why in New Jersey our work must continue to hedge and shield the rights of New Jerseyans for generations to come, irrespective of how the political winds blow. Today, we thank and lock arms with our colleagues such as Planned Parenthood, Garden State Equality, ACLU and the members of the THRIVE coalition to introduce eight new bills and an S.1513 (Turner/Ruiz) under the Reproductive Freedom and Health Equity bill package that will further strengthen reproductive and bodily autonomy rights in our state, ensuring that our children are not faced with the reality of fewer rights than generations prior.

“Protecting reproductive rights and ensuring health equity are fundamental principles that drive our legislative efforts in New Jersey,” said Senate President Nick Scutari. “I am proud to stand alongside Senator Ruiz and my colleagues in advancing reproductive autonomy and access to essential health care services for all New Jersey residents.”

 

The Reproductive Freedom and Health Equity Bill Package Includes:

S.3490 – Codifies authority for certain health care providers to provide abortions and clarifies certain operational requirements for abortion facilities.

S.3452 – Requires health insurance and Medicaid coverage for reproductive health care services; prohibits adverse actions by medical malpractice insurers in relation to performance of health care services

S.3491 – Secures protections for patients and providers accessing and providing legally protected health care activities; establishes right of residents to legally protected health care services, which are restricted in other states.       

S.3492 – Creates “Reproductive Health Care Access Fund” to strengthen access to reproductive health care; makes appropriation.

S.3493 – Requires affirmative written consent for certain entities to disclose individual’s medical information regarding reproductive health care services, with limited exceptions, unless disclosure is necessary to provide those services.

S.3494 – Requires four-year public institution of higher education to develop and implement reproductive health services plan; requires county college to develop referral network for reproductive health care services.

S.3495- Establishes Reproductive Health Care Professionals Loan Redemption Program; appropriates $5 million.

S.3496- Provides for voluntary contributions for taxpayers on gross income tax returns to support reproductive health care services.

S.1513 (Turner/Ruiz) – Requires Medicaid cover emergency contraception without requiring prescription or other authorization.

 

STATEMENTS FROM SUPORTING ORGANIZATIONS

Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey:

“Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey is thrilled to support the introduction of the Reproductive Freedom and Health Equity Bill Package. We are grateful for Senate Majority Leader Ruiz’s leadership in strengthening reproductive freedom and access in New Jersey. With 21 states and counting having eliminated or severely restricted access to abortion, the time is now for New Jersey to do everything in our power to enhance reproductive freedom. These bills respond to the post-Roe health care landscape and protect New Jersey in the face of future attacks on reproductive freedom. Through these bills, New Jersey can ensure everyone can access reproductive health and protect patients and providers for years to come.”

Kaitlyn Wojtowicz – Senior Vice President of Public Affairs

Garden State Equality:

“We’re proud to work with our coalition partners to ensure that New Jersey continues to lead the way in securing health equity and bodily autonomy for anyone who needs it.  Protecting our valuable providers is a great step towards ensuring everyone has legally protected healthcare services, no matter what happens outside of New Jersey.”

Lauren Albrecht – Director, Advocacy and Organizing

ACLU of New Jersey:

“Two years ago today, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion, stripping millions of people of their fundamental human right to reproductive autonomy. While this right is firmly protected in New Jersey through our laws and state constitution, we must go further to ensure that reproductive rights, including the right to abortion, are not just protected under law, but are accessible and affordable to all who need it. We are grateful to Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz, Shanique Speight, and all New Jersey leaders for taking steps to expand reproductive freedom in our state, particularly through the introduction of S3452/A4601, vital legislation to remove out of pocket costs for abortion care coverage. We look forward to advocating for the swift passage and implementation of this bill as a key step toward equity and to working with lawmakers to continue expanding abortion access for all.”

Alejandra Sorto, Campaign Strategist

Cherry Hill Women’s Center

“We’re focused on the health and safety of our patients. In the two years since Dobbs, our role has evolved as we help our communities navigate a radically shifting legal landscape and harassment from emboldened antiabortion extremists. We are grateful for the opportunity to support the Reproductive Freedom and Health Equity bill package which will meaningfully improve the experience of all those seeking and providing stigmatized healthcare services in New Jersey.” – Roxanne Sutocky – Director of Public Affairs

New Jersey Family Planning League

 “We applaud Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz and Senate President Nick Scutari’s efforts in protecting reproductive health care and supporting health equity through the introduction of this landmark legislative package. These bills will expand access to comprehensive reproductive health care services, including abortion. We appreciate the leadership for their commitment to guaranteeing New Jersey continues to stand as a beacon of protection against the continuous threats to reproductive rights.” – Rachel Baum, CEO & President of New Jersey Family Planning League

National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section:

“The National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section, applauds the introduction and support for the passage of the repro insurance bill – another step forward in breaking down the barriers to accessing reproductive health care including abortion and ensuring both reproductive and religious freedom in reproductive healthcare choices.”  – Phoebe Pollinger – Policy Advocate and NCJW/Essex Reproductive Rights Committee Chair

New Jersey Policy Perspective:

“This legislation will significantly improve access to reproductive health care across the state. Removing financial barriers will make sure that anyone in New Jersey, regardless of their income or where they were born, can afford the care they need. With the right to abortion and reproductive freedoms under attack, it’s crucial to protect and expand access to reproductive health care for everyone in the state.” – Brittany Holom-Trundy, Ph.D. – Senior Policy Analyst  

 

For more information on the Reproductive Freedom and Health Equity bill package, please contact John Ross at jross@njleg.org.