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New Jersey must remain a haven for reproductive rights | Letter from your editor

I think back to a conversation I had several years ago with a former colleague, a reliable liberal Democrat, who was skeptical about abortion but considered himself one of the “good guys.”

It’s the look on his face I remember the most, as he told me not to be histrionic about threats to my reproductive freedom. “deer is the established law of the land, so you’re wasting your time worrying about it,” he told me.

He may have to eat those words, if the U.S. Supreme Court acts on the leaked opinion that would overturn Roe vs. Wade, which has protected reproductive rights for almost as long as I’ve been alive. It would also lie with the assurances that several new conservative justices gave during their confirmation hearings, where they too all agreed that deer was established law.

Don’t let anyone – not even Governor Murphywho was quick to remind everyone that New Jersey law codifies deer and its protections here – to tell you that reproductive rights are not in jeopardy here, right now. If those people who are currently shouting about critical race theory at the school board decide to turn their fake righteous rage against abortion, things could change here quickly. We have already seen, with guys like Ed Durr in Gloucester County, how quickly a right-winger who comes out of nowhere with the right mix of memes and messaging can topple a dependable, pro-choice Democrat.

It can happen here.

This is already happening in states like Louisiana, where Republicans are proposing a bill that not only criminalizes abortion, but also birth control methods like IUDs. A total ban on abortion services would mean that women suffering from ectopic pregnancies – which will never result in a baby, only the death of the mother – would not have access to safe and routine medical procedures.

And it’s not just women whose rights are at stake here. Ensuring equal access to medical care and equal protection under the law is fundamental to keeping us all free. This question isn’t just about preserving the freedom of women or “people giving birth” or “people with wombs” or whatever other inclusive euphemism you might like to use. Forced pregnancies and forced births, through laws which by definition can only be applied to some people and not to others, are inhuman and abominable assaults on the very notions of life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. They put us all down.

Anti-choice people like to frame the conversation around the babies that might result from these pregnancies, rather than the pregnant person. Don’t let them. Bodily autonomy, pregnancy, and self-determination are not theoretical concepts, and the hardline Christian right comes for them.

In the 90s, I went to abortion rights marches wearing this button that said “SAFE LEGAL RARE,” a riff on a quote from Hillary Rodham Clinton about the ideal status of abortion. I see now what a mistake that was, how much ground it ceded to the Christian right which views every abortion as a tragedy that could have been avoided. Not every abortion is a tragedy, and while they should be safe and legal, “rare” is a moral judgment, not a legal position.

Chances are you know someone who has had an abortion or been involved in an abortion. They probably didn’t tell you about it or openly talk about it, because it’s none of your business. Women shouldn’t have to take to Twitter to share their abortion stories to let us know what’s at stake.

Today, New Jersey is a haven for reproductive rights, medical freedom, and self-determination. We must do everything to make it so.

Also this week, a hot dog tragedy, a party at the snack stand, REAL ID is coming, a mysterious liver disease in the kids, and brunches for mom.

HOT DOG SAGA: “I just opened a week ago and boom, it happens”, this is how david martina described the heartbreaking turn of events at the hot dog stand he spent 18 months and $55,000 fixing. The “boom” was a work van that slammed into the facade of the building.

ADULT SNACKS: Celebrate at the snack bar! A Voorhees Township father has filed a lawsuit alleging adults involved in a youth soccer program turned the pitch into a party venue and accuses those responsible of embezzlement. The parents don’t deny partying, but say it happened after 12-hour shifts at the dealership.

REAL ID READY: If you haven’t had to renew your New Jersey driver’s license since before 2019, you should take care of it now. It was then that Jersey began issuing REAL ID licenses. Time is running out before only REAL ID compliant licenses will be accepted for air travel.

MYSTERIOUS DISEASE: New Jersey has yet to record cases of a mysterious childhood hepatitis, but health officials here are on the lookout. Here’s what parents and caregivers need to know.

BECAUSE SHE WORTH IT: If we’re being honest, my favorite Mother’s Day brunch is an Egg Benedict at the counter of my local restaurant with my son eating pancakes on the stool next door. If your mom likes it a little more sophisticated, check out this list of New Jersey’s best brunches.

Finally, if you’re a true crime fan, a podcast enthusiast, or just like hearing a good story told well, I can’t recommend “Father Wants Us Dead” enough, the new podcast series from NJ.com. In it, journalists Rebecca Everett and Jessica Remo dissect the case of John’s list, who methodically murdered his family in their Westfield home in 1971. The crime is gruesome enough, but the story of how he disappeared into a new life after the murders, and the lasting impact the murders had on the people involved and the city, are irresistible. You will be hooked from the first episode.

Have a wonderful week, and to all the moms, moms-to-be, moms-in-law, moms-in-law, bonus moms and aunts: you are loved!

PS: You’ve had some great ideas for upping your reusable bag game with the plastic bag ban now in effect. My favorite: put “bags” at the top of your grocery list so you don’t forget to bring them to the store. Now, if I can just remember to bring the list…

Amy Z. Quinn is NJ.com‘s Public Editor, Newsletters and Briefings. To receive a letter from your editor every Saturday, add your email here.