Editor's Note: With 42 days left until the presidential election, PolicyMic's Audrey Farber will be posting a daily update on the state of abortion rights in the U.S., covering legislative challenges to Roe v. Wade in all 50 states. So far, we've gotten updates on New York, Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine and New Hampshire. Check back in every day to keep track!
While New Jersey's laws on abortion are "regrettably" amongst the most liberal in the nation, according to Fox News, several New Jersey politicians want to "diffuse the WMD" that is abortion. But what effect have they had on abortion rights in the Garden State?
Fetuses — “the child in the womb” — are “the most persecuted minority in the world” (true story) according to U.S. Representative Republican Chris Smith of New Jersey’s 4th district (including Central Jersey from Trenton to Freehold to Point Pleasant.)
In order to protect this massive population ignored by global human rights for so long, Rep. Smith managed to get a bill passed in the U.S. House in May of 2011 that would “deny tax credits to employers who offer insurance plans that cover abortion [and] deny tax credits and subsidies for private insurance plans that cover [abortion].” Smith is running for re-election and is challenged by Democrat Brian Froelich, who called Smith a “policy blood brother” of Paul Ryan and Todd Akin. Acute, but the district has gone for the Republican candidate in the past two presidential elections.
Representative Smith is giving the great state of New Jersey a certain unsavory name on the national stage, palling around ideologically with the likes of Todd Akin. Republican Governor Chris Christie’s rhetoric, if not policy-making, belies his anti-choice stance: “That child is a life which deserves protection” and “every life is precious and a gift from God.”
Public speeches like these have cost him valuable support in his electorate. In a Rutgers-Eagleton poll, 31% of voters polled “felt worse” about Christie after his pro-life Statehouse speech in 2011, while only 14% reported “feeling better.” 87% of voters polled support legalized abortion of some form, while only 10% favored banning the procedure.
Christie cut $7.5 million in state funding (plus federal matching funds) from women’s health and family planning organizations, including Planned Parenthood, under the guise of cost-cutting. But in the opinion of the Star Ledger editorial board, “that was plainly untrue. When Democrats found a way to cover the costs with federal money, he still blocked it.”
This money had been earmarked for “family planning clinics that provide birth control and health screenings to thousands of uninsured women.” Chris Christie is the first elected Republican governor of the state since pro-choice (in her way) Christie Whitman. I doubt she would have made that cut.
Despite the governor’s clear anti-abortion and anti-choice stance, cost-cutting has been his only move. The Democrat-controlled State Legislature (60-40 in both the Senate and the General Assembly) is unlikely to change New Jersey’s current laws on abortion, which include public funding for the procedure and do not implement even any basic restrictions such as parental notification or waiting periods