NEWARK – Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck today announced a unanimous vote by the State Board of Medical Examiners (“the Board”) to remove barriers to reproductive health services and expand access to care for all New Jersey residents.
The Board voted unanimously today to adopt new rules to eliminate medically unnecessary regulations on abortion in New Jersey and to open new avenues for reproductive healthcare services across the state.
Key aspects of the rule changes the Board voted to adopt today 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; and
- 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.
“At a time when other states are creating roadblocks to reproductive health and abortion care, New Jersey is working to expand access to these vital services, especially for communities facing systemic, economic, and logistical barriers to care,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “Reproductive freedom and equal access to health care are the right of all New Jerseyans and I applaud the Board for acting to protect both today.”
“Here in New Jersey, we’re committed to ensuring our residents have access to the health services they need,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “I thank the Board of Medical Examiners for carefully considering the evidence and reaching a decision that puts the health of New Jerseyans first. Today’s action eliminates medically unnecessary rules that have disproportionately limited healthcare access for people of color and underserved communities.”
The rule changes that the Board voted to accept today were first proposed in January 2021 and will take effect when the adoption notice is published in the New Jersey Register in the coming months.
The Board’s action corresponds to a provision of a bill currently pending in the Legislature: the Reproductive Freedom Act (S3030/A4848), which would also make additional changes to protect reproductive freedom and remove barriers to access to care.
The Board’s decision to adopt the regulatory changes follows the recommendations of a Board subcommittee empaneled in 2018 to study the Board’s current regulations in light of advances in the field of abortion care.
In determining that the current regulations are outdated, 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 healthcare providers other than physicians to perform a termination of pregnancy, the rule changes could 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 once the new regulations take effect.
“We commend the board for its decision to adopt meaningful regulatory changes regarding abortion care in New Jersey,” said Sean P. Neafsey, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “As a result of their efforts, thousands of qualified and trusted providers in our state will now be allowed to play a role in expanding abortion access and residents will have enhanced choices and more timely access to essential reproductive health care.”
The mission of the Division of Consumer Affairs, within the Department of Law and Public Safety, is to protect the public from fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, and professional misconduct in the sale of goods and services in New Jersey through education, advocacy, regulation, and enforcement. The Division pursues its mission through its 51 professional and occupational boards that oversee 720,000 licensees in the state, its Regulated Business section that oversees 60,000 NJ registered businesses, as well as through its Office of Consumer Protection, Bureau of Securities, Charities Registration section, Office of Weights and Measures, and Legalized Games of Chance section.