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New Jersey touts abortion protections to lure businesses

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks to reporters during a briefing in Trenton, N.J., on Feb. 7, 2022.
Seth Wenig
/
AP
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks to reporters during a briefing in Trenton, N.J., on Feb. 7, 2022.

Gov. Phil Murphy has a message for companies located in conservative states: come to New Jersey and your employees' abortion rights will be protected.

In a letter sent to nearly 60 businesses, the Democratic governor warned that an expected Supreme Court decision could spell the end of the federal protection for abortion, but that New Jersey would ensure reproductive rights regardless.

"We're never going to be a state that looks like Texas or Georgia or other states — Oklahoma — that are going in the direction of taking rights away from people," Murphy said in an interview with NPR. "We are going to expand rights."

Americans continue to await an opinion from the Supreme Court in a highly anticipated abortion case. A leaked draft opinion published by Politico in May indicated support for overturning Roe v. Wade, though that may not be the final judgment of the court.

A number of Republican states have vowed to ban or severely restrict abortion if the Supreme Court allows it, but New Jersey joined some liberal jurisdictions moving in the opposite direction, enshrining the right to an abortion in state law.

"The overturning of a woman's right to bodily autonomy — and the chilling effect this decision will have on your ability to attract and retain top female talent by being located in a state which has refused to recognize women's reproductive freedom — cannot be ignored," Murphy said in the letter.

Murphy's office would not share the names of the companies but said they were in sectors such as digital media and entertainment, financial services, information technology and manufacturing. The bulk of the letters went to companies with headquarters or a major presence in Texas, Georgia, Ohio, Missouri and Florida.

Katie Byrd, the communications director for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, said "business is booming" in the Peach State and pilloried Murphy's letter.

"A sitting governor wouldn't be spending his time making this type of desperate outreach if business was already booming in his state," Byrd said in a statement. "He'd be celebrating the announcement of multibillion dollar projects and thousands of new jobs — like Gov. Kemp has had the privilege of doing several times already this year (note Rivian and Hyundai recently)."

A spokesperson for Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas pointed to a Tuesday press release announcing that the construction and mining equipment manufacturer Caterpillar would move its corporate headquarters from Illinois to Texas.

But the administration notes that businesses are still choosing to move to the Garden State. And, according to Murphy, that's because New Jersey makes more than just business sense.

"My point to those companies is: New Jersey's good value for money. We've got one of the most aggressive, progressive incentives package of any American state, so the math works," Murphy said.

"But also increasingly, to those CEOs, they've got to take into account values — not just value — but values."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joe Hernandez