TRENTON – Abortion rights will officially become part of New Jersey state law later this week, under a bill approved Monday in the Legislature.

The bill doesn’t go as far as the proposed Reproductive Freedom Act would have, but despite intense lobbying from Gov. Phil Murphy and others, legislative leaders opted for a scaled-back bill that mostly codifies court rulings on abortion ahead of a Supreme Court decision that could alter Roe v. Wade.

Murphy said he will sign the bill this week, calling the need for it “more urgent than ever.”

The bill was passed 23-15 by the Senate in a mostly party-line vote, except that Sen. Fred Madden, D-Gloucester, voted no. Sen. Holly Schepisi, R-Bergen, a pro-choice Republican, didn’t vote after voicing concerns about the lack of public notice and input before the committee vote.

“This is a landmark, simple and crucial piece of legislation to codify case law to protect the fundamental right to reproductive choice for all New Jerseyans,” said Sen. Linda Greenstein, D-Middlesex.

Sen. Michael Doherty, R-Warren, questioned where the Democrats’ authority to pass the bill comes from, adding that “some guy in a black robe” is not his authority.

“I’m happy that I’m pro-life. I’m proud to be pro-life,” Doherty said. “I don’t see it any other way, frankly, because I fear God. And he’s the ultimate authority.”

SEE ALSO: NJ Legislature to vote on abortion bill that leaves few happy

The vote in the Assembly was 46-22, with votes to abstain from five Democrats and three Republicans. The vote was mostly along party lines, except that Assemblywoman DeAnne DeFuccio, R-Bergen, voted in favor.

“Every time there’s an abortion, it ends a life,” said Assemblyman Erik Peterson, R-Hunterdon. “And I think as a body and as a state and as a society that we should put life ahead of everything else.”

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Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, D-Burlington, reacted angrily to some comments on the bill, saying no woman is happy about seeking an abortion.

“And I’m so outraged that we as women are still in the 21st century, 2022, still trying to defend and justify why we should have the right to make choices in our life,” Murphy said.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at

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