Freeholders Back District 24 In Challenging Murphy Administration ‘Reproductive Freedom Act’
(Newton, NJ) Members of Sussex County’s Board of Chosen Freeholders discussed their opposition of
the Murphy Administration “Reproductive Freedom Act” at their meeting on Tuesday, unanimously
passing a resolution against the recently introduced, fast-track legislation permitting
abortion up to birth.
Freeholder Director Sylvia Petillo read a letter from Legislative District 24 Senator Steve Oroho
and Assemblymen Parker Space and Hal Wirths, asking the Freeholders to oppose the Act. Freeholder
Deputy Director Dawn Fantasia also read the Freeholder opposition resolution
into the record.
The Freeholders said the proposed Act additionally negates the New Jersey Safe Haven Infant
Protection Act, providing for safe surrender of newborns without prosecution. The Act would also
allow for any non-resident – including the undocumented and prison inmates – to come to New Jersey
for an abortion up to a child’s birth, with provisions that abortions can be performed by medical
professionals, who may not be not medical doctors.
Under the proposed Act, prosecution would be waived against those performing abortions
and those individuals similar to the publicized “prom mom” case in New Jersey, with the discarding
of unwanted newborns.
Planned Parenthood would be guaranteed annual taxpayer funding.
It would also negate religious objections and the conscience clause – in effect since 1974 –
protecting “the rights of individuals to refuse to perform or assist in abortion procedures.” All
insurance carriers would additionally be mandated to provide coverage for abortions,
as well as contraceptive prescription coverage for up to a year.
The Freeholders also agreed Governor Phil Murphy’s Act, would foster sex trafficking and provide
protections for those facilitating it.
The letter from Oroho, Wirths and Space stated that those who are typically pro-
abortion, have viewed Murphy’s legislation as overreaching.
The Freeholder resolution, which will be sent to Murphy, each of the state’s legislators, all of
the other Boards of Chosen Freeholders statewide and each municipality in Sussex County, recapped
the Act’s provisions and noted that the Act “enshrines in law that living babies in the womb,
capable of feeling pain, have no rights at any stage of pregnancy, even if they are viable and at
The Freeholder opposition quoted a portion of the proposed Act, which states, “A
fertilized egg, embryo or fetus, shall not have independent rights, under the laws of this state.”
Murphy’s proposed Act prevents adoption of any and all legislation in the future to challenge it.
“The Reproductive Freedom Act to expand abortion is the most radical, egregious abortion bill that
our legislatures have ever been asked to consider in New Jersey,” Petillo said. “This is crazy,”
Freeholder Anthony Fasano said of the Act’s provisions. “It’s unsustainable, it’s
overreaching and I support the efforts to oppose it; and I thank the Senator
and the Assemblymen for theirs as well.”
Freeholder Joshua Hertzberg added, “It is crazy for me that legislation like this; one, would even
be pushed; and two, try to be pushed so quickly so as to sneak it in, is just egregious.”
Hertzberg said he has spoken to friends who are pro-abortion Democrats, who have yet to agree with
Freeholder Herbert Yardley’s sentiments echoed those of Fasano’s and added, “It’s incomprehensible
that during delivery you can abort a child. To have a child being born and delivered and you’re
able just to reach in and snuff out that life, when I explained this to some of my friends, they
just couldn’t believe that this would happen. That you could just literally terminate a child at
Fantasia provided statistics from the Safe Haven Infant Protection Act that the
Reproductive Freedom Act would cancel out. Between 1991 and 1998, she said child
abandonment in public places jumped 62 percent. Of 105 newborns abandoned in 1998, 33 were found
dead. In 1996, one New Jersey resident in college in Delaware, Fantasia added, discarded their
newborn in a trash bin; and in June of the following year, a teenager gave birth in a bathroom
during her prom, wrapped the baby in a can liner and returned to the prom. In each of these
tragedies, the babies died, Fantasia said.
Under the Safe Haven Infant Protection Act, however, 76 infants in total have been safely
surrendered, Fantasia said.
Fantasia addressed the polarizing views on abortion but said most countries worldwide have
addressed the issue of fetal pain, with the United States one of the few nations now permitting
at-will abortions up to the delivery date, along with North Korea, China, Vietnam, Singapore, The
Netherlands, and Canada.
Fantasia discussed the Legislative District 24 co-sponsored introduction of the Pain- Capable
Unborn Child Protection Act, which excludes provisions for rape, incest or to save the mother’s
life. This state legislation attempt was first introduced in 2016, then again in 2018, yet stalled
and died in committee in 2020. The science behind the legislation is that medical professionals
have documented that when a child is in utero, it is necessary to sedate the child if a mother
requires surgery during pregnancy. Fantasia referenced one case in Spain where experts witnessed
fetal stress due to the pain during intrauterine fetal surgery for Spina Bifida; subsequent
administration of anesthesia resolved the pain-induced stress response of the fetus.
She also referenced the 2004 Unborn Victims of Violence Act, providing that when a baby and the
mother are injured or killed in a crime, that Act recognizes two human victims.
While New Jersey, she said, has no fetal homicide law in effect, with the non-
advancement of the March 2016 “Motherhood Violence Act” (A 3377). In that very same month, a tree
was illegally cut down in South Jersey, and at least one eagle egg in a nest was destroyed in the
process, with two adult eagles escaping harm. As such, and under present law, New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection may fine an individual up to $5,000 and
one year in prison, for destroying an eagle nest.
“New Jersey has laws that have zero legal congruity,” Fantasia added. “Destroying an eagle egg is
illegal because what is inside the egg is considered an endangered eagle. If an unborn eagle is an
eagle, an unborn human is a human, period.”
“New Jersey consistently presents with so many inequities around reproduction,” she said.
Raising the point that in New Jersey schools, school nurses cannot dispense OTC medications without
written parental consent, but the state allows abortions for minors without such consent; and she
said “doubles down” in the proposed Reproductive Freedom Act by allowing non-physicians to perform
abortions on minors.
Fantasia said she believed the Freeholder sentiments would be twisted and
mischaracterized as “religious zealotry,” but said all Freeholders agreed the Act is “inhumane;”
and the global majority is clearly in agreement.
In other business:
Fantasia recapped the Murphy Administration’s recent release of more than 2,300 inmates
from state prisons due to COVID, with the Administration contradicting its own
guidelines that those released would not be violent offenders. However, following their release,
ICE arrested 88 violent offenders. The Newton Police arrested one of those released for drug
distribution near the Halsted Middle School, she said. She said Murphy plans to permit another
release soon. During the last round, she said, Murphy’s plans were thwarted by a news story leak,
to release COVID-positive inmates via public transportation. Fantasia said the Murphy Administration has not been trustworthy during the pandemic for its judgment in placing the
COVID-positive with the healthy in nursing homes, as well as the COVID-positive inmate planned
release by public transportation.
The Freeholders and Administrator Gregory Poff each thanked veterans for their service.
The county has a video available of its 2020 Salute to Military Veterans at:
Fasano announced that in-home COVID tests are can be obtained by county residents at no charge,
with results within 48 hours. Details are on the county’s website at: www.sussex.nj.us/.
Fasano said businesses can still add their information to an interactive map, also
available on the county’s website, providing details about their business hours and services.
Petillo, Fasano and Hertzberg reported about expanded transportation for residents through
TransOptions and Skylands Ride. Hertzberg said rail service has been a topic of discussion with the
New Jersey Transportation Planning Authority.
All of the Freeholders thanked individuals at the Board of Elections and the Sussex County Clerk’s
Office for their tireless efforts during the exclusive mail-in ballot election. Petillo said
finalized election results may be expected for the county by the end of the week.
Fasano presented a proclamation via the conference call recognizing the Great American
Smokeout on Nov. 19 to Tracey Storms-Mazzucco from the Center for Prevention
To listen to the full meeting audio, visit: www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGCVlyL0yDk.
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