New Jersey Expands Reproductive Health Care Access

 In Nurses Weekly

Gov. Phil Murphy announced expanded access to reproductive health care in New Jersey with the adoption of new rules published in the New Jersey Register. In October, the State Board of Medical Examiners unanimously voted to adopt new rules to eliminate medically unnecessary regulations on abortion and open new avenues for reproductive health care services across the state.

“At a time when our country is on the verge of severely limiting access to reproductive health care, New Jersey is prioritizing the expansion of these critical services,” said Murphy. “Removing outdated barriers to care ensures that all New Jerseyans have equitable access to reproductive health care.”

Key aspects of the new rules published in the New Jersey Register include:

  • Repealing the Termination of Pregnancy rule that singles out abortion care for targeted regulation by, among other things, requiring that all terminations of pregnancy be performed only by a physician, and barring office-based terminations beyond 14 weeks gestation.
  • Clearing the path for Advanced Practice Nurses, Physician Assistants, and Certified Nurse Midwives and Certified Midwives to perform early aspiration terminations of pregnancy.
  • Updating the regulations to integrate reproductive care within the generally applicable rules designed to ensure the safety of patients who undergo surgery or special procedures in an office setting.

The State Board of Examiners’ decision to adopt new regulatory changes followed the recommendations of a board subcommittee empaneled in 2018 to study the board’s current regulations in light of advances in the field of reproductive health care.

In adopting the new rules, the board considered nationally recognized medical and public health studies, which demonstrated that general rules governing health care procedures are sufficient to secure the health and safety and that certain early abortion procedures can safely be performed by non-physician clinicians. Studies also indicate that medically unnecessary over-regulation of abortion itself creates public health harms by disrupting access to essential care.

By clearing the path for certain health care providers other than physicians to perform a termination of pregnancy, the rule changes significantly expand access to reproductive care in New Jersey. Currently, there are approximately 11,956 advanced practice nurses, 4,495 physician assistants, 393 certified nurse midwives and 18 certified midwives in the state who could become authorized to perform the procedure.

“Every New Jerseyan deserves the ability to make their own personal health care decisions, especially when it comes to reproductive health care and abortion,” said Kaitlyn Wojtowicz, vice president of public affairs, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey (PPAFNJ) and member of Thrive New Jersey. “We at PPAFNJ thank the Board of Medical Examiners for this necessary step to expanding access so we can all get the care we need, when we need it.”

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