New Jersey lawmakers confirmed tonight that plans to add abortion rights to the state constitution have been canceled at the request of key supporters, including Planned Parenthood of New Jersey.
Democratic lawmakers were divided over the measure. Some thought a referendum in November 2023 would boost turnout to boost their chances of holding majorities in both houses of the state legislature next year. But there were enough Democrats uncomfortable with framing the next election around abortion that the leadership wasn’t entirely sure the votes were there this year.
In the end, Planned Parenthood and others decided they didn’t want to divert financial resources to an electoral initiative in a state where Roe v. Wade was already enshrined in law while they face tougher fights in other states.
The New Jersey Globe first reported on Friday that the plan had failed.
“New Jersey Democrats worked together earlier this year to enact the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act, which codifies New Jersey’s constitutional right to freedom of reproductive choice,” said Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Rep. Lisa Swain (D-Fair Lawn) Sunday night after a conference call with their caucus. “While we were open to bringing up a new reproductive rights ballot before the end of the year, advocacy groups like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have asked us to wait for now, especially with struggles in other states where reproductive rights issues are immediate.” endangered.”
Senate President Nicholas Scutari and Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) said they want to “strengthen” protections against abortion in New Jersey.
“After many discussions with stakeholders, we have decided that now is not the right time,” said Scutari and Ruiz. “We remain steadfast in our efforts to continue to protect women in New Jersey and will remain committed to ensuring that women always have the right to choose what is best for their bodies and their families.”
Coughlin and Swain reiterated the intention of Democratic lawmakers to revisit the idea of amending the constitution at a later date.
“We remain committed to protecting the freedom of the people of New Jersey to make their own choices about how and when to start a family, and we will work together to determine how we can continue that support without the.” weakening critical efforts in other states,” they said.
Amol Sinha, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, commended lawmakers for their efforts but urged them instead to “take immediate action to expand equal access to reproductive health care, including abortion, to everyone in New Jersey.” .
“A state constitutional amendment that merely perpetuates the status quo is unnecessary, and without a careful, consultative process, an electoral measure risks creating uncertainty in the legal landscape. We have to do more,” Sinha explained. “This moment requires building on New Jersey’s robust legal protections to provide access to abortion treatment and ensure that right becomes a reality for everyone in our state.”