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Advancing New Jersey’s ongoing efforts to protect and enhance access to reproductive health care, Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division of Consumer Affairs have just announced a rule proposal by the State Board of Medical Examiners (“the Board”) aimed at expanding the pool of New Jersey healthcare providers available to perform early aspiration abortions.

The proposed rule, published in the New Jersey Register on Monday, September 18, establishes the regulatory requirements for Certified Nurse Midwives (“CNMs”) and Certified Midwives (“CMs”) to perform early aspiration abortions, including the coursework and clinical education they must complete to perform the procedure safely and effectively. Currently, there are 431 CNMs and 17 CMs active in New Jersey under the regulatory authority of the Midwifery Liaison Committee of the Board.

The proposal follows the Board’s December 2021 adoption of rules that eliminated medically unnecessary regulations on abortion – including a requirement that only a physician licensed to practice medicine and surgery in New Jersey could perform abortion procedures.

“New Jersey, under the leadership of Governor Murphy, is committed to reproductive freedom and to protecting and enhancing access to reproductive care in our state,” said Attorney General Platkin. “Expanding the pool of licensed professionals eligible to perform early aspiration abortions helps to ensure these critical services remain readily available for those exercising the right to choose them.”

“For too many people, lack of access to authorized abortion providers is a significant barrier to reproductive health care and can lead to increased risks and costs, and people not receiving the care they need,” said Cari Fais, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “By creating a regulatory pathway for Certified Nurse Midwives and Certified Midwives to become authorized to perform early aspiration abortions, we are promoting equal access to services for all New Jersey residents and those traveling to our state for reproductive health care.”

The Board’s proposal is now subject to public comment. The proposed new rule and information on how to submit a comment by November 17, 2023 can be viewed on the Division’s website.

Expanding the pool of New Jersey practitioners permitted to perform early aspiration abortions advances the Murphy Administration’s ongoing efforts to enhance protections for and access to reproductive health care following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overturning Roe v. Wade in June 2022. Those efforts include:

• Enacting historic legislation to further the State’s commitment to protecting abortion rights for patients and providers. The Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act, signed by Governor Murphy in January 2022, codifies the fundamental right to an abortion in in the state for New Jersey residents and those coming into the state to seek abortion services. Separate legislative measures signed into law by Gov. Murphy help ensure residents of other states who seek reproductive health care in New Jersey can access confidential care without fear of prosecution, insulate healthcare practitioners from New Jersey-initiated disciplinary actions based on the provision of reproductive health care, including abortion, that is legal in New Jersey, and require medical professionals in New Jersey who prescribe contraceptives to write prescriptions for up to 12 months at a time.

• Requiring comprehensive abortion coverage as a part of all health benefits plans regulated by the New Jersey Division of Banking and Insurance (“DOBI”). This requirement, which was in place as of January 1, 2023 in the individual and small employer health insurance markets, is now in effect for the fully-insured large employer health insurance market upon plan issuance or renewal, as of September 18, 2023. The State of New Jersey has regulatory authority over certain health insurance markets. Specifically, DOBI regulates the individual, small employer and the fully-insured large employer health insurance markets, often referred to as the “regulated markets.” The individual market includes plans offered on the marketplace, through Get Covered New Jersey, the State’s Official Health Insurance Marketplace, and off the marketplace.

• Establishing a “Reproductive Rights Strike Force” comprised of officials across the Department of Law & Public Safety to initiate civil and criminal enforcement actions and develop other strategic initiatives to protect access to reproductive health care and abortion care in New Jersey.

• Allotting more than $30 million in the FY2023 budget for family planning services (in addition to those covered by state-sponsored insurance programs), including $10 million for family planning facilities upgrades; $5 million for OB/GYN training; and $5 million for reproductive health facility security grants. These programs are continued in FY2024 to ensure continued availability of women’s health care in New Jersey. The FY2024 budget also includes a $10 million increase for Medicaid payments for reproductive health care services.  

• Establishing a state-federal partnership to ensure access to reproductive health care in New Jersey, protect health care workers, increase security for providers of abortion care, and protect the data privacy rights of patients and those who assist individuals seeking reproductive health services. The partnership facilitates collaboration and intelligence sharing among the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, the Division of Criminal Justice, the New Jersey State Police, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and the State’s local, county, and state law enforcement partners.

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