The Jersey City Council passed a pro-choice resolution declaring the city a “right-to-choose sanctuary city” for abortion rights in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe vs. Wade.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
The resolution also called for codifying the right to abortion in federal law through a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives called the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021.
“Over the weekend we watched so many people in Jersey City protest the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Millions of women across the country feel unsafe and unsure of the future. We must send those women a message Jersey City is a safe place,” Jersey City Young Democrats Secretary Maxine Mandel said to applause during public comment.
“Black women and birthing people are seven times more likely to experience child mortality. We could do more to push that forward,” added Morgan Spann.
Jersey City held three rallies over the weekend to speak out against the Supreme Court’s expected decision following a draft decision leak last month, one hosted by the Hudson County Democratic Socialists of America, one by the JCYD, and another by the four city councilwomen and Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31).
Campbell Charshee, a member of the North New Jersey DSA, called on the council to not just do a symbolic resolution, but to actually budget funds to allow the city to have some type of abortion clinic.
” … So I urge the council not only to pass this resolution, but to put actual financial backing behind Jersey City’s designation as a sanctuary city. New Jersey’s Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act does protect abortion access under state law, but doesn’t require health insurance to cover the procedure,” Charshee said.
Charshee said the average cost of an abortion is $549, which is not affordable for low-income women, as well as that 13.5 percent of the county doesn’t have health insurance, nor does it have any free or low-cost abortion clinics.
“I call the city council to back up this resolution financially by establishing a publicly financed operating abortion clinic here in Jersey City. The clinic should offer free abortions … both for residents and for those traveling from states that have restricted access to abortions.”
Ayla Schermer, another member of the JCYD, said the Supreme Court’s decision “stripped away human rights” and therefore “my heart breaks for those living under quite different circumstances” in support of the local legislation.
“Abortion is healthcare and the recent Supreme Court decision means pregnant people will be treated as second-class citizens. Many will die. There are no abortion clinics in Jersey City nor in Hudson County,” noted Eleana Little, the vice president of the Progressive Democrats of Hudson County.
She continued that locally there are two pregnancy crisis centers that are against abortion, and while there are options in Bergen County, many in Hudson don’t have cars and/or the means to get there on a moment’s notice.
“I spoke at a rally this weekend. This is an important issue for women’s health. I know that people have their own opinion and beliefs on abortion. We talk a lot about women’s right to choose. Abortion is healthcare and we overlook that a lot,” Ward A Councilwoman Denise Ridley said.
“ … It’s still my fight because there is a little, young Black girl in Texas where they might have these complications and her doctor is telling her ‘this is not going to work out for you. This fetus is not going to live.’ And she has to now sit there with this condition that is damaging to her, hoping that her body can, at some point, expel this situation and it may and it may not.”
Ward B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey, who sponsored the resolution, noted that the next administration in Washington, D.C. could institute a federal ban on abortions so Congress needs to take action and codify Roe.
“Time is of the essence when this decision is made. You don’t have one week, two weeks, three months, to decide if you really want to do this. If you make this decision, you have to act then and there … It’s very frustrating because my mother-in-law fought this fight 50 years ago,” she explained.
She also noted that she asked Mayor Steven Fulop to sign an executive order so that their police will not to cooperate with other states seeking to prosecute women seeking abortions in Jersey City.
The westside councilwoman also noted that they are talking to the county about potentially funding an abortion clinic.
“I don’t think the Democrats are taking this seriously enough … We are one election cycle from a total abortion ban,” Ward D Councilman Yousef Saleh said.
“It can lead to the erosion of other rights for gay individuals … the right to contraception. It seems like they’re going back. This decision is such an affront to the decision this country is going in. We need to fight.”
Ward E Councilman James Solomon agreed with his colleagues.
“I will proudly vote yes. The personal choices that women make that the government is going to interfere and it’s wrong. I’m enraged as many are. This has been a 50-year political movement to get to this point,” Ward E Councilman James Solomon said.
“This is not about unborn children. It is an attack on women, plain on simple, on their upward mobility. It’s a consent issue,” added Councilwoman-at-Large Amy DeGise, who added this decision would “lead to more marginalized communities being attacked and having their rights stripped away. We will not tolerate that here.”
Council President Joyce Watterman concluded by saying that men need to be held responsible for the actions since a woman can’t get pregnant by herself.
“I don’t see a why a man is not responsible in this: I have a serious problem with that. If you’re going to penalize a woman for making a choice over her body and she didn’t get in that predicament by herself … then you must penalize him in some way or another,” she rationalized.
“So I don’t know what the penalty must be, but if they’re gonna come against our rights, I think we need to start coming against their rights … I don’t know if they have to pay a fee or if they have to get a vasectomy or if they have to be castrated if they rape a woman or incest – I don’t know.”
The resolution passed unanimously 8-0, with Councilman-at-Large Daniel Rivera absent.