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New Jersey takes steps to ensure reproductive rights as Roe v. Wade future uncertain

Oct 2 (Reuters) - New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Friday announced that state lawmakers will introduce legislation to protect and extend access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion.

The bill would enshrine reproductive rights into New Jersey law should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn the landmark Roe versus Wade ruling.

“As access to healthcare and the right to choose are under attack at the federal level, we will support, defend, and protect reproductive rights here in New Jersey, Murphy said in a statement.

He did not provide a timeline for the legislation.

Earlier on Friday, the Democratic governor said New Jersey would not “sit idly by” as it waits to see whether the U.S. top court will overturn the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

Several other states, including New York, have taken action to ensure access to reproductive healthcare is guaranteed in the event of a rollback at the federal level.

Illinois passed the Reproductive Health Act last year and Vermont took similar steps to declare reproductive choice a fundamental right, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research and policy organization.

Abortion rights are once again in the spotlight as the Senate Judiciary Committee is due to begin confirmation hearings on Oct. 12 for President Donald Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

Barrett, who would replace the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a defender of abortion rights, on the bench, is a devout Catholic and a favorite of religious conservatives.

In 2006, she signed on to an advertisement in an Indiana newspaper calling for Roe v. Wade to be overturned, a stance certain to be scrutinized during her upcoming Senate confirmation hearings. (Reporting by Maria Caspani, Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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