By: Mike Catalini
New Jersey’s Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed two bills Friday aiming to protect the right of those from outside the state to get abortion services within its borders and barring extradition of people involved in reproductive health care services should they face charges in another state.
The legislation moved swiftly in the Democrat-led Legislature — within a week of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade — and comes as some Republican-led states immediately ban or severely limit abortion, with other restrictions taking effect later.
“As overwhelmingly angry that I am … that I even have to sign these bills, I’m equally as proud to do so,” Murphy said during a signing ceremony in Jersey City, not far from the Statue of Liberty. Murphy explicitly mentioned the statue during his remarks and also alluded to its torch.
“These laws will make New Jersey a beacon of freedom for every American woman,” he said.
It’s unclear whether there have been instances of other states seeking to extradite someone stemming from abortion services or whether those from other states have sought abortions in New Jersey.
New Jersey enshrined a right to abortion into state law in January, preempting the high court’s expected decision, which came June 24.
The legislation ensures residents of other states seeking reproductive health care in New Jersey can access confidential abortion services without fear of being prosecuted, Murphy and lawmakers said.
“A woman’s right to choose must not be determined by the misfortune of her geographic location or circumstances,” said Assembly member Lisa Swain, a Democrat from Bergen County.
Under the legislation, the disclosure of a patient’s medical records stemming from abortion services could not be disclosed without their consent in most cases. It also bars public entities and employees in New Jersey from cooperating with interstate investigations aiming to hold someone liable because of abortion services.
The second bill blocks the extradition of someone within New Jersey to another state for “receiving, providing, or facilitating reproductive health care services that are legal in New Jersey.”
The legislation passed with the support of abortion rights advocates, who rallied on Thursday at the statehouse to seek passage of another, sweeping, bill that includes provisions to require insurance coverage of reproductive health care and set aside $20 million for access to abortion and other health services.
The Supreme Court’s ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states, although the timing of those laws taking effect varies.
In other New Jersey related news, the AP reported that gas prices continued to fall in the Garden State and around the nation amid lower crude oil prices and an increase in total domestic gasoline stocks.
AAA Mid-Atlantic says the average price of a gallon of regular gas in New Jersey on Friday was $4.85, down nine cents from last week. Drivers were paying $3.14 a gallon on average a year ago at this time.
The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $4.84, down eight cents from last week. Drivers were paying $3.12 a gallon on average a year ago at this time.
Analysts say demand is currently lower than it was last year at this time, and an increase in total domestic gasoline stocks and decreasing oil prices mean drivers will likely continue to see relief at the pump.