Court ruling on abortion draws swift reaction in Montclair and beyond
Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning the right to an abortion established under Roe v. Wade was handed down Friday, no immediate changes will take place in New Jersey. But people on both sides of the issue were speaking out.
Hundreds of people gathered at Spiotta Park in South Orange on Friday for a protest organized by BlueWaveNJ, Planned Parenthood of Metro NJ, NJ-11 for Change, SOMA and other groups.
They chanted: "We stand on the shoulders of our mothers, who never would give in. We fight for the future of our daughters. When we fight we win."
Gov. Phil Murphy condemned the court's 6-3 ruling and assured New Jerseyans that their right to reproductive health care, including abortions, will be protected.
State Senator Nia Gill of Montclair has introduced legislation to protect individuals from out of state who have abortions in New Jersey. Senate bills S-2633 and S-2642 work in conjunction to “ensure all who receive treatment in our state have complete legal protection when engaging in their right to reproductive care.”
But others, including Cardinal Joseph Tobin of the Archdiocese of Newark, applauded the decision. “We recognize that a woman’s decision to have an abortion is often tragic and painful,” he said in a statement posted on the archdiocese’s website. “A woman who takes this desperate action is often under great duress and is encouraged by social structures that are patently sinful.”
The Supreme Court sided with the state of Mississippi in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, holding that there is no constitutional right to abortion and that precedents, including the 1973 case Roe v. Wade and the 1992 case Casey v. Planned Parenthood, are overruled.
The court’s majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, does not stray far from the draft opinion that was leaked in early May and sparked nationwide rallies and protests, including a Bans Off Our Bodies Rally held in Montclair on May 3.
“While I signed historic legislation in January codifying a woman’s right to an abortion into state law, I am prepared to take whatever action I can to secure a woman’s full bodily autonomy and expand access to reproductive freedom,” Murphy said his statement.
New Jersey is one of 16 states and the District of Columbia where the right to abortion will be protected despite the court ruling. In January, Murphy signed the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act, which codified abortion rights in New Jersey, and has encouraged the State Legislature to widen abortion protection.
The governor has called for new legislation mandating insurance coverage for abortion procedures, creating a fund for uninsured women and protecting medical providers from out-of-state legal actions. Officials in both New Jersey and New York believe their states will become sanctuaries for women unable to access abortion in their home states.
The legislation introduced by Gill would address concerns related to women who travel to New Jersey to get abortions. One bill, S-2633, aims to protect people who assist women from other states in obtaining abortions. The other bill, S-2642, prohibits the governor from extraditing a person to another state “if their conduct related to reproductive health services and is legal in New Jersey,” Gill said in a statement.
Both bills are in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“We must act immediately to pass this legislation and provide the legal protections in New Jersey now that the Supreme Court no longer protects our rights,” Gill said.
Montclair’s representatives in Congress, Rep. Donald Payne (NJ10) and Rep. Mikie Sherrill (NJ11), released statements condemning the court’s ruling and vowed to support reproductive rights.
“This decision is not conservative, it is radical,” Sherrill said.
Payne said, “Clearly, Supreme Court decisions are no longer based on the Constitution nor on legal precedent.”
Both representatives promised to continue to support and work for abortion and reproductive rights.