NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – First Lady Tammy Murphy, addressing a Rutgers conference on the historical contributions made by New Jersey women, toolawm0not-so-veiled swipe Friday at Republican lawmakers’ anti-abortion policies.
In praising the great strides generations of women in the state and country have made since the Suffrage Movement some 100 years ago, Murphy reminded the 300 or so people who had gathered at the 2019 New Jersey History Conference at Douglass College that “we still have our work to do.”
“Right now, on a federal level, women’s rights and autonomy over their own bodies is under attack and resources are being withheld that could help millions of women,” she said.
Her comments come just months after Planned Parenthood announced it was withdrawing from a Title X, which has provided affordable birth control and reproductive health care to young, poor women since it was created nearly 50 years ago.
Under new federal guidelines, Title X funding recipients – clinics and doctors’ practices - are forbidden from referring women to abortion providers.
Murphy's next comment seemed to reference Christine Blaisey Ford, who testified in 2018 that she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court candidate Brett Kavanaugh as teenagers.
“Moreover, the discourse and general tone has become one that lacks basic respect for women," Murphy said. "We’ve seen survivors of sexual assault gather their courage to testify in front of the nation only to be discounted and ignored.”
Days after Ford’s testimony, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to cast doubt on her allegations, stating that she would have reported them at the time of the event if they were true. Trump’s comments and subsequent tweets sparked victims of sexual assault to begin tweeting with the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport to share reasons for their silence.
Murphy said her husband, Gov. Phil Murphy, has taken steps to support women. For one thing, he signed the Diane B. Allen Pay Act on April 24, 2018, in an attempt to eliminate the long-existing pay disparity between men and women in the state.
She also pointed out that for the first time in New Jersey’s 242-year history, a majority of the state cabinet appointments have been women.
“By having women at the table. we reduce the need and the time wasted to educate people about what we are after and spend more time implementing,” the First Lady said. “Whether it’s women’s health, promoting women in film or supporting women-led business, we understand here in New Jersey that we are stronger, more creative and more successful when we have women front and center. It’s not just women. It’s diversity as a whole. We must remember that women of color still experience these impediments more often than others. So we still have our work to do.”
New Jersey’s Secretary of State, Tahesha Way, also addressed the conference.
The theme of the NJ History Conference was “New Jersey Women Make History.” Programming included everything from a discussion about art critic Mary Bartlett Cowdrey present by Carol McCarty, Public History Fellow at the Zimmerli Art Museum, to a discussion about how women shaped Delaware Valley society in the 17th Century.