New Jersey Democrat leaders officially threw out plans for a pro-abortion state constitutional amendment over the weekend in response to division among party lawmakers and financial concerns from prominent pro-abortion groups.
Lawmakers did not make the details of the proposed amendment public, but the New Jersey Globe described it as an attempt to “enshrine abortion as a basic human right” in the New Jersey Constitution.
According to the report, state Democrat leaders wanted to put the amendment on the November 2023 election ballot for voters’ approval. To amend the constitution, the language must pass the legislature by a simple majority in two consecutive sessions and then receive approval from a majority of voters.
However, the plan received wide-spread push-back from both sides of the abortion debate and the political aisle. On Sunday, Senate President Nicholas Scutari and Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz said they decided to scrap the plan, North Jersey.com reports.
“Although we strongly considered a proposal to amend the Constitution within the next year to further strengthen protections, after many conversations with stakeholders, we have decided that now is not the appropriate time,” the Democrat leaders said in a joint statement.
State Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin specifically mentioned Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union in his statement about canceling the proposed amendment.
“While we were open to advancing a new ballot question on reproductive rights before the end of the year, advocacy groups like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have asked us to hold off for the time being, particularly with battles occurring in other states where reproductive rights are at immediate risk,” Coughlin said.
New Jersey already has some of the most extreme pro-abortion laws in the U.S. Killing unborn babies is legal for basically any reason without restriction, and the state Supreme Court is favorable toward abortion.
Because of the situation and the financial costs of convincing voters to support a pro-abortion constitutional amendment, Planned Parenthood of New Jersey leaders urged lawmakers to delay action, the New Jersey Globe reports.
Jackie Cornell, executive director of the abortion chain, said they do not want to spend “tens of millions of dollars” next year trying to pass the amendment. Instead, they plan to lobby the legislature to send more money to the abortion industry.
“We will continue to advocate for strengthening access to reproductive health care, including abortion, by breaking down barriers to getting care and making meaningful financial investments into providing care,” Cornell said.
According to NorthJersey.com, one of abortion advocacy groups’ priorities for 2023 is legislation that would force health insurance companies to cover elective abortions.
Here’s more from the report:
The amendment idea emerged as an intriguing strategic option for Democrats, who are feeling a measure of anxiety after Republicans flipped seven legislative seats in 2021. Compounding the concern is that a new legislative map gives the Republicans a fighting chance to reclaim control of the Legislature for the first time since the late 1990s.
According to the Globe, the proposal caused division among Democrat lawmakers, too. The pro-life Democrat organization Democrats for Life also spoke out against the potential amendment, as did Republican lawmakers.
“While Democrats have not shared their proposal publicly, we should oppose their effort on both moral and scientific grounds if it seeks to enshrine in our constitution the extreme idea that abortion should be legal right up until birth,” Senate Minority Leader Steve Oroho, R-Sussex, said in a statement.
Earlier this month, Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats For Life, criticized the proposal as “nonsense” in a state where abortions already are legal for basically any reason. She said state lawmakers should focus on supporting pregnant and parenting families in need instead.
“The legislature already removed almost any barrier to abortion earlier this year. Instead of this redundant idea, they should put energy into making a concerted effort to provide equity in pregnancy outcomes – particularly for poor and minority women who are over-represented in abortion numbers,” Day said.
New Jersey has the highest abortion rate in the country and some of the most permissive pro-abortion laws.
A state constitutional amendment on abortion would have made it much more difficult for voters and their elected state lawmakers to pass even moderate restrictions on the killing of unborn babies, such as a 15-week abortion ban, which polls consistently show most Americans support.
Earlier this year, New Jersey Right to Life warned voters about how extreme state Democrat leaders are on abortion. The pro-life group pointed to a USA Today editorial by Gov. Phil Murphy and Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver that admits they support late-term abortions and oppose parental consent for minors.
“They don’t care that the people of NJ don’t support such an extreme edict!” the pro-life organization responded.
Polls consistently show that a strong majority of Americans support legal protections for unborn babies after the first trimester, parental consent for minors and other limits.
A recent Harvard poll found 72 percent of Americans, including 75 percent of women, oppose abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Another Marist poll in January similarly found 71 percent of Americans oppose abortion after the first three months of pregnancy.
Even in Democrat strongholds like California, polls show opposition to unrestricted abortions through all nine months of pregnancy. For example, a Rasmussen poll in August found only 13 percent of California voters think abortions should be legal up to birth.
However, three states, California, Vermont and Michigan, passed pro-abortion amendments to their constitutions in November. Pro-life leaders warned that the amendments will void restrictions on late-term abortions and parental consent laws, and allow unborn babies to be killed for any reason through all nine months of pregnancy.
Pro-abortion activists dumped tens of millions of dollars into the states, funding massive misinformation campaigns that deceived voters about just how radical the amendments were.