TRENTON, N.J. – Assembly Republicans voiced their opposition to the bill enshrining abortion into state law prior to it passing the Legislature on Monday. GOP members’ efforts to restore reasonable restrictions by moving to amend, substitute and layover the bill were voted down along party lines.
The bill (A6260/S49), called the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act, codifies access to abortions independent of Roe v. Wade and was introduced last week – only five days before the end of the session. It passed the Assembly 46-22 with votes to abstain from five Democrats and three Republicans.
Assemblyman Jay Webber urged Democrats to reconsider their position that encourages more pregnancy terminations in a state with nation-high abortion rates.
“Abortion is the leading cause of death in the state of New Jersey. Forty-eight thousand abortions a year in the state of New Jersey. That’s more than deaths from heart disease, more than deaths from cancer, more than deaths from Covid. In fact, it’s more than deaths due to heart disease and cancer combined. That’s how serious and important and significant this issue is,” Webber (R-Morris) said. “This bill and the rhetoric we’ve heard from the other side is: any abortion, at any time, for any reason, on any one, paid for by the taxpayer.”
Assemblyman McClellan pushed to amend the bill to include a study that would look at abortion rates among African Americans, whites, and other communities in New Jersey.
“There is a troubling disparity with African Americans and white Americans as far as abortion is concerned. I would like to have this bill amended to include a study,” McClellan (R-Cape May) said. “The study would look at the glaring differences in communities concerning the rate of abortions.”
Assemblywoman Aura Dunn worried the bill lacked any kinship notification, leaving young girls alone during a most traumatic event.
“Seven states, including Delaware and Massachusetts, permit a minor to obtain an abortion if a grandparent or other adult relative is notified of this medical decision,” Dunn (R-Morris) said. “We know a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed until the age of 25 or so. We also recognize the adolescent mental health crisis we are in. How do we help them cope? We say, ‘You’re not alone, you’re never alone.’ But, what does this law say? ‘You are alone. We turn our backs on you.’ I can’t seal the books on our children.”
Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso was appalled by the language that said women’s lives would be ruined by having children and questioned how someone could elect to have a late-term abortion.
“Have you seen the technology that we have today? Have you seen that baby in a mama’s womb? I have. I have a 1-year-old grandson. And when I tell you that the picture they sent me when he was just 28 weeks old, that it looks just like he looks on my little medallion here – I want you to ask yourself, ‘Can you abort that child?’” DiMaso (R-Monmouth) said.
Assemblyman Scharfenberger relayed the dismay pro-abortion constituents expressed over the extreme piece of legislation.
“This legislation, among other things, allows for the aborting of a fetus up to the moment of birth,” Scharfenberger (R-Monmouth) said. “A fetus, that in minutes would be a precious infant held in its mother’s arms, could legally be killed in New Jersey. Even people who are pro-abortion have contacted my office horrified at the gruesome prospect.”
Assemblyman Brian Bergen objected to the speed at which the bill moved through the legislative process, calling it undemocratic.
“It was a real shame to, I believe the integrity of this body, and to the process, to see the way in which this bill was brought to the floor today. You’ve had two years to move this piece of legislation through the proper committee process and on to the floor. And allow the proper public view, and debate and discussion,” Bergen (R-Morris) said.