New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and the state’s Legislature are pushing efforts to cover out-of-pocket costs for women who decide to have an abortion.
The Garden State is one of several Democrat-led states attempting to make it easier for women to get an abortion as Republican-led states look to restrict access to the procedure following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022.
Ten states, including New Jersey, require health insurers to cover abortion services, but it is the only one of those states that allows out-of-pocket costs, according to nonprofit KFF, which researches health care issues.
Murphy, a Democrat, called for an end to these out-of-pocket costs in his annual address earlier this month.
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Supporters of the effort argue that even women with insurance coverage might not reach their deductible, which can vary, but often exceeds $1,000. The cost of an abortion depends on several factors, including whether it is medication-induced or surgical. A medication-induced abortion typically costs between $600 to $800 and a surgical procedure could cost up to $2,000, according to Planned Parenthood.
“We don’t want those having to make the decision between paying for groceries or having the care that they need,” Planned Parenthood Action of New Jersey executive Kaitlyn Wojtowicz said.
The governor’s push for the legislation comes after Democrats expanded their majority in the Legislature and during a presidential election year in which the party hopes the issue of abortion will propel their candidates across the country to victory in November.
Democrats in New Jersey have looked to expand abortion services in the state and attempted to weaken the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
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New Jersey has already enshrined abortion rights in law, increased funding for abortion services and required regulated health insurance plans to cover the procedure.
“New Jersey will always be a safe haven for reproductive freedom. Period,” Murphy recently told state lawmakers. “I am asking you to join me in doing more to protect reproductive rights.”
The leaders of both legislative chambers support abortion access, but it is unclear how much it would cost to pass the law, how the measure would be funded and whether it could cause insurance premiums to increase.
For example, California eliminated insurance charges, such as co-payments and deductibles, in 2022 and the measure was expected to increase insurance premiums.
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New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz spoke about expanding access to abortion and said it is expected to come in the form of a broader budget discussion.
“My daughter, who is 7, has less body autonomy in this country than my mother has had in her lifetime,” Ruiz said.
Legislative Republicans are skeptical of the governor’s proposal. Assembly Minority Leader John DiMaio said his party is focused on “pocketbook issues” that impact all residents in the state and state Sen. Declan O’Scanlon called the issue a “red herring” since state law already protects abortion access.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.