New Jersey allows non-doctors to perform abortion

shutterstock 1271882995 New Jersey governor Phil Murphy at the 2018 Ripple Of Hope Awards. | JStone/Shutterstock

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D), who describes himself as someone who has spent a “lifetime in the Catholic Church,” earlier this month applauded state policy expanding access to abortion and allowing for non-doctors to perform abortions. 

“At a time when our country is on the verge of severely limiting access to reproductive health care, New Jersey is prioritizing the expansion of these critical services,” said Murphy in a statement released Dec. 6. “Removing outdated barriers to care ensures that all New Jerseyans have equitable access to reproductive health care.”

In October 2021, the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners unanimously decided “to eliminate medically unnecessary regulations on abortion and open new avenues for reproductive healthcare services across the state.” Those changes went into effect Dec. 6.

Now, New Jersey will allow for advanced practice nurses, physician assistants, certified nurse midwives, and certified midwives to provide first-trimester aspiration abortions. Additionally, the state will now permit abortions past the 14th week of pregnancy to take place in an office setting. Abortionists will no longer be required to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, nor will they be mandated to report any sort of abortion-related complication. 

Previously, abortions in New Jersey had to have been performed by a physician, and any abortion past 14 weeks must have been carried out in a hospital. 

"The changes being adopted today will ensure more New Jersey residents have access to vital reproductive care," said Dr. Scott E. Metzger, President of the State Board of Medical Examiners, in the Dec. 6 statement. 

Metzger said there was “a great deal of time and effort” that went into the regulatory proposals, and “its unanimous decision signals it was time to implement changes to allow additional qualified professionals to provide needed abortion care."

According to the Guttmacher Institute, New Jersey had the among the highest abortion rates in the country in 2017. The updated changes marked the end of a nearly three-year process that began in 2018. The State Board of Medical Examiners’ explained that national studies had “demonstrated (...) that certain early abortion procedures can be performed by non-physician clinicians” and that “medically unnecessary over-regulation of abortion itself creates public health harms.” 

The Dec. 6 statement from Murphy’s office boasted that these changes will “significantly expand access to reproductive care in New Jersey,” noting that more than over 17,000 people would now be eligible to perform first-trimester abortions under these new policies. 

The changes were applauded by Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey.  

“Every New Jerseyan deserves the ability to make their own personal health care decisions, especially when it comes to reproductive health care and abortion,” said Kaitlyn Wojtowicz, vice president of Public Affairs, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey in the statement. 

“We at PPAFNJ thank the Board of Medical Examiners for this necessary step to expanding access so we can all get the care we need, when we need it.”

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