How NJ groups support abortion rights
Four years before Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in all 50 states called an all-volunteer group of Chicago-area women The Jane Collective served as a kind of subway for women who wanted to terminate their pregnancy.
The “Janes” took the women’s medical histories, arranged their counseling, provided support services such as childcare, and comforted them before, during and after the procedure; They also created a fund for low-income women. By the time the Roe ruling codified reproductive rights for all Americans, the group had overseen approximately 11,000 abortions.
Now that the The Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned Roe, allowing states to set their own standards for reproductive rights, women find themselves in 26 states with limited or no legal recourse to abortion. Many of them will find themselves in the same situation as the women the Janes helped: desperately seeking an abortion and unable to find or afford the help they need.
The Supreme Court decision is not expected to affect legal protections for New Jersey residents protected by some of the toughest abortion laws in the nation.
Indeed, in anticipation of State regulators now allow it Nurses, physician assistants and certified nurse midwives – more than 15,000 licensees – who are trained to perform the procedure if they so choose. Governor Murphy has also stated this he will not cooperate with anyone trying to prosecute people providing abortions in New Jersey, or their providers.
These measures could prove to be great lures for out-of-states looking for abortion services in New Jersey, and many residents frustrated by Roe’s downfall want to do anything — anything — to help them.
“There was an increase in people asking how they could help,” says Marcia Mann, vice president of development and external affairs at Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan New Jersey. “Volunteers and supporters contact us daily.”
Here are some of the many ways these groups are helping.
In addition to the national Planned Parenthood Federation, which distributes funds to affiliates across the country, donors can donate directly to the recently formed PPMNJ Abortion Support Fund. The fund ensures that New Jersey residents and anyone coming to New Jersey for an abortion receive the medical care and logistical support they need, including transportation assistance and hotel expenses.
Backers are encouraged to do so Raise money through house parties, movie nights, and special social media pages. Recent fundraisers from Montclair’s Rabble Rise Donuts, Java Love, and DFIT Studio helped raise $24,000 in just a few weeks, Mann says.
Abortion Access Fund in New Jersey, one of 80 funds that make up the National Network of Abortion Funds, provides financial assistance to people who want an abortion by working with providers and social services in the state. They also offer grants to cover the costs involved. The fund works directly with four New Jersey abortion clinics located in Englewood, Hackensack, Montclair and Cherry Hill.
NJAAF also frequently contributes to “solidarity pledges,” where similar funds from multiple states join forces to help a patient in another state.
“Abortion funds will continue to do what they’ve always done — making sure people get the abortions they need — with or without Roe,” Debasri Ghosh, executive director of the National Network of Abortion Funds, said in the nonprofit’s Spring newsletter organization . “When institutions fail us, we are the ones providing security and community care.”
The National Council of Jewish Women Jewish Abortion Access Fundoperates a massive hotline in partnership with the National Abortion Federation, connecting callers to case managers who will help them obtain resources at NAF-approved clinics.
“Access to abortion is a Jewish value,” said Bari-Lynne Schwartz, outgoing co-president of the Bergen County section of the NCJW. “When the mother’s life is at stake, abortion is mandatory in Judaism.”
Planned Parenthood of Northern, Central and Southern New Jersey, with affiliates in Hackensack and Englewood, lists ways supporters can volunteer website. This includes assisting with advocacy related to reproductive rights, including legislative updates and voter registration, and distributing educational materials at health fairs and community events.
PPMNJ has applied for grants to draw an abortion patient navigator. This person would coordinate with people coming to New Jersey for abortions, making appointments, making sure they have housing, arranging meals and other services.
PPMNJ also hopes to launch an abortion doula program modeled on a model that Planned Parenthood’s southwest Ohio affiliate has successfully run for five years. In the same spirit as the “Janes,” volunteers would be trained over a weekend to see abortion seekers “from start to finish,” Mann says, providing compassionate support throughout the procedure while they recover and answering any questions they have be able. “In Ohio, they found that patients are more likely to call someone they’ve formed a relationship with,” she says.
lobbying and protest
Like many reproductive rights activists, Regina Branca, co-chair of the reproductive justice team at the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood, urges New Jersey voters to press their lawmakers for support State Assembly Bill A4350. The law, introduced on June 20, would fund the training of nurses, physician assistants and midwives, who are now licensed by regulators to perform abortions; require private insurance coverage and streamline paperwork. It also includes language that would protect healthcare providers from being charged with crimes if they perform abortions on patients from abroad.
Branca, a Ridgewood resident, was an out-of-state abortion seeker 35 years ago when she traveled to Binghamton, New York, from her college in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where there were no providers. When she met a sea of protesters in the hospital parking lot, a nurse came out, put her arm around her and said to her, “Don’t worry about these people.”
“It’s a personal decision that depends on the individual, the provider, and the family,” she says. “I thought, ‘How dare you shame me!'”
Spread on social media
“The easiest way to help is by spreading the word on social media,” says Kaitlyn Wojtowicz, vice president of public affairs at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund in New Jersey. She advises supporters to share it Abortionfinder.org Link that takes users to service providers nationwide as often as possible and on as many platforms as possible. “The power in this moment that didn’t exist in the world before Roe is the power of social media and the internet,” she says.
Abortion finder: abortionfinder.org
New Jersey Abortion Action Fund: njaaf.weebly.com
Planned Parenthood Federation of America: planned parenthood.org/
Planned Parenthood from Metropolitan New Jersey: plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-metropolitan-new-jersey
Planned Parenthood in Northern, Central and Southern New Jersey: planned parenthood.org/planned-parenthood-northern-central-southern-new-jersey
Guttmacher Institute (collects nationwide data on publicly funded family planning services, unwanted and teenage pregnancies and abortions): guttmacher.org
NARAL Pro Choice Americas: prochoiceamerica.org
Thrive New Jersey (coalition of more than 70 organizations working to expand access to reproductive and sexual health care in the state): flourish-nj.com
Cindy Schweich Handler is editor of Montclair and Wayne magazines and a writer for The Record and Northjersey.com. Email: [email protected]; Twitter: @CindyHandler