New billboards in states that restrict abortion urge businesses to come to N.J.

Matt Arco |

Have a business or work for a company in a state where access to abortion is limited or non-existent since the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that struck down Roe v. Wade? Then you should relocate to New Jersey.

That’s the message a business-funded nonprofit is sending to people in four states — Georgia, Florida, Missouri, and Texas — by way of a digital billboard campaign that will run through the end of the month.

“Best education system. Laws that protect women’s rights. #1 ranked place to live. Choose New Jersey,” read billboards that are funded by the group Choose New Jersey.

Gov. Phil Murphy has long touted the state’s highly rated schools as a reason for people to make New Jersey home. The ranking, meanwhile, was the work of the finance website WalletHub list of “best states to live in.”

But it’s the access to abortions in the wake of the court’s ruling that the group honed in on.

“At a time when values have never mattered more, Choose New Jersey is proud of New Jersey’s longstanding commitment to expanding and protecting women’s rights, and the recent actions Governor Murphy and the legislature have taken to codify these protections in state law,” Wesley Matthews, Choose New Jersey’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

“New Jersey offers businesses and their employees the very best talent and education, the top places to live in the nation, and the peace of mind that fundamental human rights are prioritized and protected,” Matthews added. “We are excited to demonstrate to employers and employees why New Jersey is the best state for them to grow their business and raise their families.”

This comes less than a month after Murphy sent nearly 60 letters to dozens of companies based in states with laws restricting abortion, urging them to relocate to New Jersey because it offers protection as a “dangerous potential new reality dawns for women.”

Most of the letters went to businesses in states Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, and Texas.

Murphy’s office declined to reveal the companies but said they are in the fields of digital media and entertainment, financial services, information technology, and manufacturing. The letters were sent after a leaked draft decision showed the U.S. Supreme Court was on the verge of overturning Roe v. Wade.

Choose New Jersey won’t say how much it is spending on the billboard campaign.

Murphy signed a bill into law in January that preserves the legal right for women and girls to obtain an abortion in New Jersey. State lawmakers at the time passed the legislation in fears of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the matter.

More recently, a week after the court eradicated national abortion rights, Murphy signed into law in July a measure that will provide legal protections for people who are expected to travel to New Jersey to legally terminate their pregnancies. He did so a day after the Democratic governor signed a $50.6 billion state budget that included $45 million to expand family planning and abortion services and security upgrades for clinics — a move that will prepare New Jersey to be a “safe haven” state as 26 others move to outlaw or severely restrict the procedure.

The laws were fast-tracked in anticipation of states like Idaho, Oklahoma, and Texas that permit citizen-actors to sue anybody who assists patients wishing to terminate a pregnancy — whether they are clinic operators, doctors, nurses, and even people who drive a woman to get an abortion. These private citizens may seek civil damages of $10,000 or more in Texas and $20,000 in Idaho.

Choose New Jersey is a business-funded nonprofit formed under former Gov. Chris Christie’s administration. It’s made up of some of the state’s largest utilities, labor unions, and financial companies. Its stated mission is to attract businesses to the Garden State.

The group has funded Murphy’s overseas trips to Israel, Germany, India, and Ireland.

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