Abortion is fully legal in New Jersey, both for those who live in the state and those coming from out of state to receive the procedure. Blind new guide released by the Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest, an offshoot of the prominent law firm Lowenstein Sandler, cautions that there may still be dangers involved for out-of-state residents who seek abortions in New Jersey and for those who assist them.
In three separate Frequently Asked Question guides for patients, employers, and “helpers” – those assisting others from out-of-state in getting abortions – the center notes that zealous legislation in states where abortion is restricted or banned could end up targeting abortions performed in New Jersey.
“It is normally safe for a person to travel to a state and engage in conduct that is legal in the state the person is visiting,” the FAQ for helpers says. “There is a risk, however, that the normal rules will not stop prosecutors in other states from trying to apply their existing criminal laws to prevent people from helping residents of ban states get legal abortions in other states. We do not yet know how courts in ban states will react to such law enforcement tactics.”
The US Supreme Court’s decision overturning the constitutional right to abortion left the issue up to individual states, and New Jersey, like most Democratic-controlled states, has maintained full abortion access within its borders.
Gov. Phil Murphy also recently signed legislation prohibiting the state from assisting out-of-state abortion investigations, protecting people from extradition in most cases, and ensuring private health information remains private, laws which could become an important safeguard if other states target abortions performed in New Jersey. (Further legislation creating a public abortion fundamong other things, has so far stalled.)
But as the Lowenstein Center noted,