National Partnership for Women & Families

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Conservative N.J. lawmakers pledge to pursue 20-week abortion ban

Conservative New Jersey lawmakers on Monday said they plan to push forward with a bill (S 2026) that would ban abortion care at 20 weeks, NJ.com reports.

Bill details

The legislation is based on the medically unfounded claim that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks. Under the bill, physicians who provide abortion care after 20 weeks would face a $15,000 fine or up to five years in prison.

The measure would not penalize women who seek abortion care after 20 weeks of pregnancy (Livio, NJ.com, 12/6). It includes limited exceptions for instances when the woman's life is threatened by a physical condition; instances of officially reported rape or incest involving a minor; and instances of rape involving adult women who have reported the rape and received counseling by medical facilities other than an abortion clinic or have been medically treated for the rape (S 2026 text, accessed 12/8).

Bill prospects

The lawmakers proposed the bill in April, but they held a press conference on Monday to draw attention to it in light of Donald Trump's election to the U.S. presidency and the Ohio legislature's advancement of a similar abortion ban (Livio, NJ.com, 12/6). Trump has pledged to appoint abortion-rights opponents to the Supreme Court, making it more likely that proposed bans could withstand legal challenges (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/7).

However, according to NJ.com, it is unlikely that the bill will advance far in the state's liberal Legislature. State Sen. Joseph Vitale (D), chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, said, "Any discussion and decision regarding the health and well-being of a woman is between her and her provider" (NJ.com, 12/6).