New Jersey will soon allow residents to buy birth control without a prescription

A birth control packet sits unused in open plastic wrapping.

File photo: This Friday, Aug. 26, 2016 file photo shows a one-month dosage of hormonal birth control pills in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

New Jersyans will soon no longer need a prescription to access birth control medication at pharmacies.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law on Friday eliminating the requirement.

The move comes one year after Murphy signed the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act codifying abortion access into state law, making New Jersey a haven for abortion and other reproductive health services.

“We can proudly say we have finally freed the pill,” said the bill’s primary sponsor Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer).

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“Providing easier access to the pill improves health outcomes for women and their children. It improves their mental and emotional health and economic stability,” Turner said. “It provides them with greater opportunities to continue their education and advancement in the workplace.”

Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, a Democrat who represents the 12th congressional district, said the measure would help advance racial and economic justice by addressing the state’s staggering maternal mortality rate for people of color.

“It can’t be understated how much this will help our lower-income communities,” Watson Coleman said. “Taking off work every month to renew your prescription for birth control, then standing in line at a pharmacy is not feasible for many people who are working two and three jobs.”

The signing comes as newly sworn-in members of Congress voted to pass restrictive abortion-related bills. On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a measure, known by some as the “Born Alive” bill, mandating that medical professionals try to preserve a baby’s life in rare instances when an infant is born after an attempted abortion. Watson Coleman voted against the bill.

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Republican state lawmakers in New Jersey have introduced a similar measure, though it is unlikely to gain traction due to the Democratic majority in both houses.

Murphy said New Jersey’s law will go into effect in a few months after the state Pharmacy Board and state Board of Medical Examiners come up with guidelines.

This month, Murphy also announced more than $6 million in funding for facility and security upgrades at 15 reproductive health care centers. That announcement came after some centers received threats from anti-abortion protesters in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

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