State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio joined fellow lawmakers, physicians and New Jersey Right to Life representatives during a Statehouse press conference to urge passage of a bill that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks.
“This is the time of year when we reflect on how to protect the most vulnerable members of society,” said Pennacchio, (R-26). “That is why we chose today to call on those who control the legislative agenda to stand up for the rights of innocent unborn children. For who is more vulnerable than a baby who can feel pain in the womb, but cannot cry out for help? It is time for our leaders to listen to these children’s silent screams and immediately pass our Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.”
Opposition to the bill however, remains strong in the Democrat-controlled New Jersey Legislature, where Assembly Deputy Speaker Mila Jasey (D-27), who has a nursing degree, said the push to pass the bill was a "frightening" call to action for women concerned about the conservative path facing the United States under a Donald Trump administration.
"It's chilling to me that they would take advantage of the president-elect and the opportunity to reopen this issue that I think, for us in New Jersey, has been settled for a long time," Jasey told the Daily Record. "I think it's a call to action, a wake-up call for women in particular who perhaps have taken for granted the rights that we have had for a number of years. This is a reminder that those rights, our ability to make decisions for ourselves and in the best interests of our families, are vulnerable."
During the 2016 presidential campaign, President-elect Trump acknowledged being pro-choice in the past, but said he was now "pro-life, with exceptions," according to several reports.
Pennacchio, who represents Parsippany, Jefferson and Rockaway Twp. and five other Morris County towns, was an early and vocal supporter of Trump's campaign and was a Trump delegate at the Republican National Convention.
Primary sponsors Pennacchio and Sen. Steven Oroho (R-24) stood with cosponsors Sen. Anthony R. Bucco (R-25) and Sen. Michael Doherty (R-23) on Monday to push Senate bill S-2026, which was introduced to the legislature on April 18 and referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.
The bill provides that "an abortion is not to be performed or attempted if the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child is 20 weeks or greater." Listed exceptions to the ban would include pregnancies necessary to save the life of a woman endangered by a physical disorder, illness or injury; a pregnancy resulting from a rape that is reported to a law-enforcement agency prior to the abortion; or a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest committed against a minor and reported to a law-enforcement or child-protection agency.