ASSEMBLY, No. 1487

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2012 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  MICHAEL PATRICK CARROLL

District 25 (Morris and Somerset)

Assemblywoman  ALISON LITTELL MCHOSE

District 24 (Morris, Sussex and Warren)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblymen Chiusano and Space

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     "Women's Right to Know Act."

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel

  


An Act concerning the provision of information to women about abortion and alternatives thereto and supplementing chapter 65A of Title 2A of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.  This act shall be known and may be cited as the "Women's Right to Know Act."

 

     2.  The Legislature finds and declares that:

     a.  It is essential to a woman considering an abortion that she receive complete and accurate information on the abortion procedure and alternatives.

     b.  The knowledgeable exercise of a woman's decision to have an abortion depends on the extent to which the woman receives full and sufficient information to make an informed choice between two alternatives: giving birth or having an abortion.

     c.  Most women who seek abortions do not have any relationship with the physician who performs the abortion, before or after the procedure. In most instances, the woman's only actual contact with the physician occurs simultaneously with the abortion procedure, with little opportunity to receive counseling concerning her decision.

     d.  The decision to abort is an important and often a stressful one, and it is desirable and imperative that it be made with full knowledge of its nature and its consequences.

     e.  The medical, emotional and psychological consequences of an abortion are serious and can be lasting.

     f.  Many abortion facilities or providers hire untrained, so-called counselors whose primary goal is to sell abortion services.

     g.  It is, therefore, the purpose of this act to: ensure that every woman considering an abortion receive full and complete information on her alternatives, and that every woman submitting to an abortion do so only after giving her voluntary and informed consent to the abortion procedure; and reduce the risk that a woman may elect an abortion, only to discover later, with devastating psychological consequences, that her decision was not fully informed.

 

     3.  As used in this act:

     "Abortion" means the use or prescription of any instrument, medicine, drug, or any other substance or device with the intent to terminate the pregnancy of a woman known to be pregnant.   Such use or prescription is not an abortion if done with the intent to: save the life or preserve the health of an unborn child, remove a dead child, or  deliver an unborn child prematurely in order to preserve the life of both the pregnant woman and her unborn child.

     "Conception" means the fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum.

     "Department" means the Department of Health and Senior Services.

     "Facility" means any public or private hospital, clinic, center, medical school, medical training institution, health care facility, physician's office, infirmary, dispensary, ambulatory surgical treatment center or other institution or location in which medical care is provided to any person.

     "Gestational age" means the time that has elapsed since the first day of the woman's last menstrual period.

     "Medical emergency" means any condition which, on the basis of the physician's good faith clinical judgment, so complicates the medical condition of the pregnant woman as to necessitate the immediate abortion of her pregnancy to avert her death or for which a delay will create serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.

     "Physician" means any person licensed to practice medicine and surgery in this State.

     "Pregnant" or "pregnancy" means the female reproductive condition of conception and having an unborn child in the woman's body.

     "Unborn child" means the offspring of a human being from conception until birth.

     "Woman" means a female person.

 

     4.  No abortion shall be performed or induced without the voluntary and informed consent of the woman upon whom the abortion is to be performed or induced. Except in the case of a medical emergency, consent to an abortion is voluntary and informed if:

     a.  At least 24 hours before the abortion, the physician who is to perform the abortion or the referring physician has informed the woman, orally and in person, of:

     (1) the name of the physician who will perform the abortion;

     (2) the particular medical risks associated with the particular abortion procedure to be used, including, but not limited to, the risks of infection, hemorrhage, danger to subsequent pregnancies, breast cancer, the possible adverse psychological effects associated with an abortion, and alternatives to the abortion that a reasonable patient would consider material to the decision of whether or not to undergo the abortion;

     (3)  the probable gestational age of the unborn child at the time the abortion is to be performed; and

     (4)  the medical risks associated with carrying her child to term.

     b.  At least 24 hours before the abortion, the physician who is to perform the abortion, the referring physician, a licensed health care professional, or a licensed social worker designated by either physician has informed the woman, orally and in person, that:

     (1) medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth and neonatal care, and that more detailed information on the availability of this assistance is contained in the printed materials described in section 5 of this act;

     (2)  the father of the unborn child is liable to assist in the support of the child, even if he has offered to pay for the abortion. In the case of rape or incest, this information may be omitted;

     (3)  she has the right to review the printed materials described in section 5 of this act;

     (4) she is free to withhold or withdraw her consent to the abortion at any time before or during the abortion without affecting her right to future care or treatment and without the loss of any State or federally funded benefits to which she may otherwise be entitled; and

     (5)  printed material which lists where free sonograms are given is  available to her.

     c.  The information described in subsections a. and b. of this section is provided to the woman individually and in a private room to protect her privacy and maintain the confidentiality of her decision, and to ensure that the information focuses on her individual circumstances and that she has an adequate opportunity to ask questions.

     d.  At least 24 hours before the abortion, the woman is given a copy of the printed materials described in section 5 of this act. If the woman is unable to read the materials, they shall be read to her. If the woman asks questions concerning any of the information or materials provided to her pursuant to this section, answers shall be provided to her in her own language.

     e.  The woman certifies in writing on a checklist form provided by the department prior to the abortion that the information required to be provided under subsections a., b. and d. of this section has been provided to her. A physician who performs abortions shall report the total number of written certifications received monthly to the department. The department shall make the number of written certifications received available to the public on an annual basis.

     f.  Prior to the performance of the abortion, the physician who is to perform the abortion or a qualified person receives a copy of the written certification required under subsection e. of this section.

     g.  The woman is not required to pay any amount for the abortion procedure until the 24-hour reflection period has expired.

 

     5.  a.  The department shall cause to be printed,  in English and in each language which is the primary language of 2% or more of the population of this State, the following materials, in such a way as to ensure that the  information is easily comprehensible:

     (1)  geographically indexed materials that inform the woman about public and private agencies and services available to assist a woman through pregnancy, upon childbirth and while her child is dependent, including, but not limited to, adoption agencies. The materials shall include a comprehensive list of the agencies, a description of the  services they offer, and the telephone numbers and addresses of the agencies, and shall inform the woman about available medical assistance benefits for prenatal care, childbirth and neonatal care.

     The department shall ensure that the materials described in this section are comprehensive and do not directly or indirectly promote, exclude or discourage the use of any agency or service described in the materials. The materials shall also contain a toll-free 24-hour a day telephone number which may be called to obtain orally such a list and description of agencies in the locality of the caller and the services they offer.

     The materials shall state that it is unlawful for any individual to coerce a woman to undergo an abortion and that if a minor is denied financial support by the minor's parent, guardian, or custodian due to the minor's refusal to have an abortion performed, the minor shall be deemed emancipated for the purposes of eligibility for public assistance benefits;

     (2)  materials that include information on the support obligations of the father of a child who is born alive, including, but not limited to, the father's legal duty to support his child, which may include child support payments and health insurance, and the fact that paternity may be established by the father's signature on a birth certificate or statement of paternity, or by court action;

     (3)  materials that inform the pregnant woman of the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the unborn child at two-week gestational increments from fertilization to full term, including any relevant information on the possibility of the unborn child's survival and pictures representing the development of an unborn child at two-week gestational increments, provided that any such pictures shall contain the dimensions of the unborn child and shall be realistic and appropriate for the stage of pregnancy depicted. The descriptions shall include information about brain and heart function, and the presence of external members and internal organs during the applicable stages of development. The materials shall be objective, nonjudgmental, and designed to convey only accurate scientific information about the unborn child at gestational ages;

     (4)  materials which contain objective information describing the methods of abortion procedures commonly employed, the medical risks commonly associated with each procedure when medically accurate, including, but not limited to, the risks of infection, hemorrhage, danger to subsequent pregnancies, breast cancer, the possible adverse psychological effects associated with an abortion and the medical risks associated with carrying a child to term; and


     (5)  a checklist certification form to be used by the physician or the physician's designee pursuant to subsection e. of section 4 of this act.

     b.  The materials prepared pursuant to this section shall be printed in a typeface large enough to be clearly legible and shall be made available without cost from the department, upon request and in appropriate quantities, to any person or facility.

 

     6.  When a medical emergency compels the performance of an abortion, the physician shall inform the woman, before the abortion if possible, of the medical indications supporting the physician's judgment that an abortion is necessary to avert her death, or for which a delay will create serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.

 

     7.  In addition to any remedies which are available under common law or by statute, a physician who fails to comply with the requirements of this act shall be subject to revocation of the physician's professional license by the State Board of Medical Examiners. No physician shall be guilty of violating this act for a failure to comply with any requirement of this act in the case of a medical emergency.

 

     8.  For the purpose of promoting maternal health and life by adding to the sum of medical and public health knowledge through the compilation of relevant data to promote the State's interest in protecting human life and maternal health, a report of each abortion performed shall be completed by the hospital or other facility in which the abortion occurred, signed by the physician who performed the abortion, and transmitted to the department within 15 days after the end of the month in which the abortion was performed. The report forms shall not identify the individual patient by name and shall include the following information:

     a.  the identity of the physician who performed the abortion and the facility where the abortion was performed, as well as the identity of the referring physician, agency or service, if any;

     b.  the state and county in which the woman resides;

     c.  the woman's age;

     d.  the number of prior pregnancies and abortions of the woman;

     e. the probable gestational age of the unborn child;

     f.  the type of abortion procedure performed or prescribed and the date of the abortion;

     g.  the pre-existing medical condition of the woman which would complicate pregnancy, if any, and, if known, medical complications which resulted from the abortion;

     h.  the length and weight of the aborted child for any abortion performed pursuant to a medical emergency; and

     i.  the basis for any medical judgment that a medical emergency existed which excused the physician from compliance with the provisions of this act.

 

     9.  This act shall take effect on the 90th day after the date of enactment, except that section 5 shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill provides that no abortion shall be performed except with the voluntary and informed consent of the woman upon whom the abortion is to be performed.  The bill mandates the provision of information about the abortion procedure and alternatives thereto as stipulated in the bill, orally and in person, by a physician or other person as designated in the bill, to a pregnant woman at least 24 hours prior to the performance of an abortion, except in the case of a medical emergency.  The information shall be accompanied by the provision of printed materials which the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is required to prepare and make publicly available under this bill.

     The bill also requires that a report of each abortion performed shall be completed by the hospital or other facility in which the abortion occurred, signed by the physician who performed the abortion, and transmitted to DHSS within 15 days after the end of the month in which the abortion was performed.

     A physician who fails to comply with the provisions of this bill is subject to revocation of the physician's license to practice medicine by the State Board of Medical Examiners, except in the case of a medical emergency which is defined in the bill as "any condition which, on the basis of the physician's good faith clinical judgment, so complicates the medical condition of the pregnant woman as to necessitate the immediate abortion of her pregnancy to avert her death or for which a delay will create serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function."

     The bill takes effect on the 90th day after the date of enactment, except for section 5 which takes effect immediately and requires DHSS to prepare printed materials to be made available without cost to health care providers and facilities and members of the general public.