MONTCLAIR – Abortion rights long have been established as a “women’s issue.”
Maybe not anymore.
“It’s not just women,” Rep. Mikie Sherrill said Monday afternoon after an abortion rights panel discussion at Planned Parenthood’s local health center.
“I’ve heard from a lot of men as well,” Sherrill said. “They’re appalled at what their daughters might be facing, what their family might be facing.”
This was not a campaign event, so there was no discussion among the panel of the midterm election – now less than two months away.
But the upcoming vote could not have been far from the minds of the 30 or so people who attended, or the panelists – Sherrill, two Planned Parenthood officials, a Columbia University health policy professor and a deputy chief counsel to Gov. Murphy.
Referring to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in June, Sherrill said we are now seeing how bad that decision was.
She related a story of a woman in Texas who was denied medical care for an apparent miscarriage, presumably because of fear such treatment may be construed as hastening an abortion.
“That’s what we are facing,” the congresswoman said.
Mentioning that she recently turned 50, Sherrill said the right to an abortion had been with her virtually her entire life – until June 24 of this year. The Roe v. Wade decision was handed down in January, 1973.
Others on the panel spoke of the fear that routine medical care for women in some states was being “criminalized.”
New Jersey is different.
The state codified the tenets of Roe v. Wade into state law in advance of the court’s June decision. That protects abortion rights in the Garden State for now, but like any law, it can be changed.
Sherrill, in fact, pointed out that under Gov. Chris Christie, an abortion opponent. the state “defunded” Planned Parenthood.
Abortion rights supporters fear that a Republican Congress and president can eventually pass a blanket abortion ban, thereby superseding state law.
That is why Sherrill and like-minded Democrats across the state – and nation – are hoping to get a big boost this fall from women and other abortion rights supporters.
Signs have so far been good for Dems. They are now ahead, albeit slightly, in nationwide generic polling. They can also point to a recent special House election in New York state where a Democrat who campaigned on abortion rights won in a competitive district.
In neighboring CD-5, incumbent Josh Gottheimer just announced a “Women for Josh” group of north Jersey women involved in local and state government.
“This November, women’s rights are on the ballot,” said Cristina Cutrone, the deputy mayor of Fair Lawn. She referenced the right of women to make their own medical choices.
Most polls indicate a majority of Americans oppose the court’s June 24 decision.
That prompted Sherrill to talk about the need to fight the “tyranny of the minority.”