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Perhaps New Jersey won’t try to pass a pro-abortion amendment to the state constitution after all

by | Nov 18, 2022

By Dave Andrusko

This is fascinating and shows you how quickly things surrounding abortion can change.

Two days ago, under the headline “New Jersey Democrats moving toward putting abortion on the 2023 ballot,” POLITICO wrote

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — New Jersey Democrats are expected to soon begin the process of asking voters to enshrine abortion rights in the state Constitution, with the goal of putting the measure on the ballot next year, when all 120 state legislative seats will be up.

Today the New Jersey Globe, under the headline  “Constitutional amendment on abortion appears doomed,” wrote “A constitutional amendment that would have asked voters to enshrine abortion as a basic human right appears doomed out of the starting gate after Democratic Senate and Assembly leaders have concluded that they don’t have the votes to pass it, the New Jersey Globe has confirmed.”

What happened?!  According to David Wildstein, who is the Globe’s editor, it goes like this.

A constitutional amendment that would have asked voters to enshrine abortion as a basic human right appears doomed out of the starting gate after Democratic Senate and Assembly leaders have concluded that they don’t have the votes to pass it, the New Jersey Globe has confirmed.

Enough Democratic lawmakers in both houses have objected to cause the plan to be pulled.  Democrats also faced obstacles from groups they had hoped would fund the referendum, including Planned Parenthood of New Jersey, who thought the planned constitutional amendment did not go far enough in preserving reproductive rights. But perhaps more importantly, national pro-abortion groups want to spend their money in states that have not already codified Roe v. Wade into law.

The referendum on the November 2023 ballot was expected to boost turnout for Democratic in next year’s legislative elections, when Republicans under a new map have a viable path to win majorities in the Senate and Assembly. 

What about just putting it off a year? “If the legislature doesn’t approve the measure in 2022, it would need a super majority next to get the referendum on the ballot.”

Abigail Adcox of the Washington Examiner adds one more ingredient:

Some abortion rights supporters argued the ballot initiative was unnecessary and would draw in anti-abortion groups, given that abortion is legal at all stages of pregnancy in New Jersey. Earlier this year, Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ) signed legislation to protect abortion access. 

New Jersey is seemingly as pro-abortion as you possibly imagine, certainly the Democrats in the legislature are. But do they really want to risk what happened in November 2021 when “Six Assembly Democrats, all yes votes on the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act, lost to Republicans”? As Mercer County Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo said back in June

he doesn’t understand why New Jersey needs to do more than it has already on abortion rights.

“Is this just smoke and mirrors and grandstanding? Are we just trying to make someone else look good or bad, you know? I’d rather just stick to good government.”

Supporters of the constitutional amendment “had hoped it would boost turnout numbers in their favor, giving them an advantage over Republicans in the state Senate and the General Assembly in key races,” Adcox writes.  

But perhaps  Democrats realize that putting this on the ballot would be no walk in the park.

Categories: State Legislation
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