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New Jersey expands access to reproductive health care

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NEWARK – Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck today announced a unanimous vote by the State Board of Medical Examiners (“the Board”) to remove barriers to reproductive health services and expand access to care for all New Jersey residents.

The board of directors unanimously decided today to pass new rules to remove medically unnecessary abortion regulations in New Jersey and open new avenues for reproductive health services across the state.

Key aspects of the rule changes that the Board voted for today include: the repeal of the abortion rule, which specifically regulates abortion care by, among other things, requiring that all abortions be performed only by a doctor, and the prohibition of Office-related terminations beyond 14 weeks of pregnancy; pave the way for Advanced Practice Nurses, Physician Assistants, and Certified Nurse Midwives and Certified Midwives to perform an early aspiration termination of pregnancy; and updating the rules for integrating reproductive medicine into general rules designed to ensure the safety of patients undergoing surgery or special procedures in a practice environment.

“At a time when other states are creating barriers to reproductive health and abortion care, New Jersey is working to expand access to these vital services, especially for communities facing systemic, economic and logistical barriers to care” said Governor Phil Murphy. “Reproductive freedom and equal access to health care are the right of all New Jersey residents, and I applaud the board for their commitment today to protect both of them.”

“Here in New Jersey we are committed to ensuring that our residents have access to the health services they need,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “I am grateful to the Board of Medical Examiners for carefully reviewing the evidence and making a decision that puts the health of New Jersey residents first. Today’s action removes medically unnecessary rules that have disproportionately restricted access to health care for people of color and underserved communities. “

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The rule changes that the board voted for today were first proposed in January 2021 and will go into effect when the adoption notice is posted on the New Jersey Register in the coming months.

The committee’s action corresponds to a provision of a bill currently pending in the legislature: the Reproductive Freedom Act (S3030 / A4848), which would also make additional changes to protect reproductive freedom and remove barriers to access to care.

The Board’s decision to pass the regulatory changes follows the recommendations of a Board Subcommittee set up in 2018 to review the Board’s current rules in light of advances in abortion care.

In determining that the applicable regulations are obsolete, the Board has considered nationally recognized medical and public health studies that have shown that general rules of health care procedures are sufficient to ensure health and safety and that certain early abortion procedures are in place safe from non-doctors clinicians. Studies also suggest that medically unnecessary overregulation of abortion itself causes damage to public health by disrupting access to basic care.

By paving the way for certain health care providers other than doctors to perform abortions, the rule changes could significantly expand access to reproductive care in New Jersey. There are currently approximately 11,956 Advanced Practice Nurses, 4,495 Physician Assistants, 393 Certified Nurse Midwives, and 18 Certified Midwives in the state who could become eligible to perform the procedure after the new regulations go into effect.

“We commend the board for their decision to make significant regulatory changes to abortion care in New Jersey,” said Sean P. Neafsey, acting director of consumer affairs. “As a result of their efforts, thousands of qualified and trusted providers in our state will now be able to play a role in expanding access to abortion and providing residents with better choices and faster access to basic reproductive health care.”

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