Less than a month after the election, Texas and Ohio became the first states to pass Draconian anti-abortion laws, indicating the extent to which Republican state legislators are reading the national election result as a green light to begin chipping away at civil liberties—and as always, the reproductive rights of women are a favorite target. If Sussex County’s delegation to New Jersey’s legislature has its way, New Jersey will be among them.
State Sen. Oroho, along with Sen. Joseph Pennachio, also a Republican, is a primary Senate sponsor of the Orwellian-named “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which seeks to, among other things, ban abortions starting at 20 weeks gestation. Assembly members Gail Phoebus and Parker Space are a primary sponsor and a co-sponsor, respectively, of the same bill in the Assembly. All four Senate and eight Assembly sponsors of the bill are Republican.
The rationale for the act is ostensibly based on the 20/20 Project, a Catholic-generated but now ecumenical religious movement that claims a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks.
The bill sets up a series of onerous restrictions, including: Physicians performing abortions must take steps to determine the age of the fetus, including “necessary” [i.e., invasive and expensive] tests; physicians must take all steps to preserve the life of the fetus if possible and treat it the same as a premature natural birth at the same stage; onerous reporting requirements, etc.
The bill makes exceptions for preserving the life of the mother, or her physical, but not mental or emotional, health. Rape victims are excluded only if the rape was reported [most aren’t because the process is so traumatizing to already traumatized women] and the victim has received state approved counseling, which cannot be at a facility that performs abortions, except a hospital [i.e., no Planned Parenthood or women’s health specialists]. Similarly, minors who become pregnant as a result if rape or incest can only have an abortion at 20 weeks or more if their cases have been reported to law enforcement or Children’s Services.
Most ominously, however, embedded in Oroho’s bill (S2026) however, is language defining as an “unborn child” any human organism from the moment of conception, thus opening the door for further restriction of reproductive rights down the line. Given the Republican Party’s history of chipping away at reproductive freedom in a piecemeal fashion, it’s highly likely that this bill is seen by its sponsors as just one more step on the road back to back-alley abortions.