Enshrining the right to abortion in New Jersey law is vitally important to protect women, given the risk that the United States Supreme Court may overturn Roe vs. Wade. And to ensure that this right is real, protecting abortion insurance coverage is the other most important priority. Any bill that emerges in our state must contain these two crucial elements.
For now, however, let’s take a look at some of the other less popular provisions of the Reproductive Freedom Act, a bill sponsored by Senator Loretta Weinberg that is expected to be heard in the Senate on Monday. These provisions may have to be sacrificed to ensure majority support for the core provisions, but that would be a shame, as each of them also deserves support. Here is an overview:
Abortions at the end of pregnancy
The bill would also codify this right, which many people may not realize exists in New Jersey. They fear that women will seek abortions late in pregnancy for cavalier reasons and that doctors will perform them.
This moral concern is understandable: there is a difference between a fertilized egg deliberately expelled by an IUD and a third trimester abortion. At some point, the fetus deserves protection, as the Supreme Court found in Roe deer. But the question is, who is best placed to provide this protection – state legislators, or a woman and her doctor?
Start with these facts: A small percentage of women have an abortion between weeks 21 and 24, for personal reasons. We don’t know how much exactly, and without better data, we won’t know what we’re trying to regulate. But this we know: they say they would have preferred to have had the procedure earlier. And most say they struggled to find the money to pay it.
These stories are heartbreaking, as they often choose to end pregnancies due to horrific deformities that will cause their babies to suffer and die, or live in a vegetative state, or endanger a twin fetus. They wait to act because they don’t want an abortion until a deadly anomaly is absolutely confirmed. Imagine being forced to go through a painful childbirth, then the agony of your baby’s death – or having to make a premature choice to abort – because of a legislator’s ban on a certain week.
And all the evidence shows that abortion in late pregnancy is not something a woman would choose to do casually. In the first trimester, an abortion takes no more than five minutes and costs around $ 550. At 20 weeks, that costs around $ 2,500, a price that increases every week. It’s a two-day procedure that’s painful for women like Lyndsay Werking-Yip, who had an abortion at 23 weeks to protect her baby girl with a severe brain defect from a lifetime of pain and suffering. She wears a medallion with her ashes: âMy child was lovingly cared for until his last heartbeat.
Only 1% of abortions happen at or after 21 weeks, still well in the second trimester, and doctors set strict limits on when they will be done. âIt can cause severe trauma to the patient,â Dr. Kristyn Brandi, a New Jersey obstetrician-gynecologist who performs abortions in cases like this, told us. âIt’s not something that should be in the political realm. Whenever the law tries to get into the weeds about these things, it doesn’t really reflect what real care looks like. “
Analyzing the exact wording of laws designed to protect the right of women to abort late in pregnancy is an impossible task. So New Jersey, and this bill, let the law be silent. They let the women and their doctors take care of it and respect the fact that they are more concerned about the fetus than any politician could be.
For some, abortions are delayed due to expense or access issues. About 75 percent of abortions are in low-income patients, many of whom have to fundraise themselves. Ensuring that they can benefit from early and affordable abortions and easy access to contraceptives, as other provisions of this bill would, is an obvious solution.
About 20 years ago, the New Jersey Supreme Court struck down a law that would have required parental notification for young people seeking abortions. However, this bill would codify that.
This is unpleasant for many parents. Having an abortion would be a major decision in a child’s life, and there is no other such decision that parents are excluded from. Why should abortion be any different?
Consider how this plays out in practice. The Cherry Hill Women’s Center, where provider Roxanne Sutocky works, also has two clinics in Pennsylvania, which require parental permission. The overwhelming majority of young people who can safely involve their parents do so, she says, because it’s the best way to log into a clinic, pay all the costs and get transportation.
The intention of a notice law is to ensure that a child faced with this decision receives the input, guidance and love of their parents. But for young people for whom this is not possible, the law is a blunt instrument. It is no exception when a parent is not available, perhaps because of incarceration, or for a young person living with another parent, or in a family in which it is dangerous to expose a pregnancy to cause of abuse.
In Pennsylvania, young people have to drop out of school, go to court and be seen in front of a judge to gain the right to have an abortion regardless of a parent. Can you imagine how intimidating it is for a 14 year old victim of rape or incest? âIt’s a very cumbersome process, which can be extremely tedious and time consuming, causing unnecessary delays for people accessing care,â explains Sutocky.
Extend abortion coverage to undocumented residents
The governor already has money in the budget to cover this, as part of a state program that also provides birth control coverage and perinatal care to undocumented residents who have no other way to health coverage.
This bill would also codify abortion coverage. If we are funding a pregnancy-related service as part of a long-established program, it makes sense to have parity to cover them all, so people have access to the full range of options available, including especially if cost is a determining factor. .
It is not a huge investment for the state to make this expansion. Abortion care is the cheapest option to provide, much more cost effective than forcing a woman continue with an unwanted pregnancy.
Opponents argue that this option would entice people to cross the border illegally into our state and embolden traffickers. It’s absurd. One would have to pay much more than the cost of an abortion of $ 550 to emigrate to New Jersey, so this benefit is marginal. And if a trafficked person needs an abortion, isn’t it better to rely on a trusted health care provider trained to recognize trafficking and provide assistance?
As Parliament opens its debate on this subject, the priority must be to protect the fundamental right to abortion and to ensure that insurance covers it. But while these other provisions are less popular, a closer look shows that they also serve the public interest.
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