New Jersey is once again leading the charge when it comes to reproductive rights. Back in October, Governor Murphy launched a one-stop site for resources regarding reproductive rights in NJ—it marked a continued progressive outlook on the issue, which has seen an increase in flared tempers ever since SCOTUS overruled Roe v. Wade in 2022 (Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization).
Murphy’s newest strides deal with prescriptions and who has access to birth control. The signed bill rules that birth control will no longer require a prescription in New Jersey—joining 30 other states in the process. All things considered, the bill was actually long overdue for a state that is often considered among the most progressive in the US.
The credit cannot be given entirely to Murphy, though. State Senator Shirley K. Turner (District 15) has spent the last seven years fighting for this bill to reach the Governor’s desk. The bill passed the NJ State Legislature last December and will go into effect starting in 2024. Every Democrat voted in favor and several Republicans joined them—crossing party lines considering many Federal Republicans’ decades-long weaponization against contraception, which has flared since the Dobbs decision.
The bill was originally passed in January of 2023, but was postponed, awaiting the state’s Board of Medical Examiners and Board of Pharmacy’s approval. The rules are not finalized just yet, but are expected to be in early February.
How Does NJ’s New Contraception Bill Work?
A common argument seen in opposition to prescription-free birth control is that it becomes less safe. However, to counteract that, NJ pharmacists will administer screenings to assure that the individual can safely take contraception before selling them the medicine.
Doctors actually played a role in the slow-moving progress of the bill, according to Turner: “Doctors don’t like to give up their turf in terms of writing prescriptions and seeing their patients, and they will hold on to them as long as they can, so it was an uphill battle in terms of getting this bill passed,” she stated.
Additionally, new NJ law makes contraceptives available to non-residents, too. This means that New Jersey is making more strides toward becoming the reproductive safe haven that many want to see it become. Murphy already declared New Jersey as a sanctuary state for abortion access last year, his office states: “Abortion remains legal in New Jersey, and no matter where you’re from, we strongly support your right to access abortion care here.”
Many Republicans in Congress have expressed their wishes to not only thwart access to abortion, but to tack contraception on along with it. Senate Republicans in July 2022 overpowered the Democrat-led Right to Contraception Act, a bill aimed at establishing the right to contraception within federal law. This out-of-touch thinking is not only immensely unpopular among US residents, but even among Republican voters. A 2022 FiveThirtyEight poll found that 93 percent of Republican voters supported the right to birth control pills.
To many onlookers, this weaponized outlook on medicine is seen not only as outdated, but illogical. If you don’t want abortions to happen, wouldn’t increased contraception help that fight? NJ Representative Bonnie Watson (D-12th District) has an answer for that contradicting language: “In New Jersey, we both talk the talk and walk the walk.”
About the Author/s
Peter Candia is the Food + Drink Editor at New Jersey Digest. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Peter found a passion for writing midway through school and never looked back. He is a former line cook, server and bartender at top-rated restaurants in the tri-state area. In addition to food, Peter enjoys politics, music, sports and anything New Jersey.