Eliminated by Christie 8 years ago, $7.5M for women’s clinics is making a comeback
Nearly eight years after Republican Gov. Chris Christie eliminated $7.5 million in state grants to support family planning and women’s health clinics, Democratic state lawmakers took the first step Monday to reinstate the money.
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who has been on the job for less than a week, has said he will sign the legislation that Christie vetoed numerous times throughout his tenure.
“The loss of funding for family planning eight years ago had a devastating impact on access to care for women and families in New Jersey, with the closure of six family planning centers,” state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, said after the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee approved her bill, (S120).
“We made it a priority to put this bill on the governor’s desk early in the legislative session so that we can begin the process of restoring access to services as soon as possible,” Weinberg said. “All residents deserve access to family planning and preventive services, and I look forward to seeing these measures signed into law.”
Since 2010, Christie has successfully trimmed the $7.5 million in women’s healthcare funding, mostly with vetoes. He first argued that the funding was “duplicative” and that the state couldn’t afford it, but said during his presidential bid in 2015 that cut reflected his socially conservative values.
Planned Parenthood was among the clinics that received the money, although the clinics are barred from using it directly to fund abortions.
“It is both irresponsible and unconscionable that Senate and Assembly leaders and Governor Murphy are moving full steam ahead to force New Jersey taxpayers to fund Planned Parenthood, an organization that is currently under investigation by the FBI for the illegal sale of baby body parts,” Tasy said.
Tasy referred to a published report last month that said the Justice Department had asked for documents from its investigation of Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue practices. Planned Parenthood stopped accepting payment for post-abortive fetal tissue in 2015, after an anti-abortion group surreptitiously recorded clinic officials discussing the practice.
The Senate committee also approved a related bill (S105) extending Medicaid eligibility to women with slightly higher-income levels than most Medicaid recipients. The bill was approved in a vote of 6 to 1 with one abstention.
Six of 58 family planning clinics closed following the budget cut, according to a 2011 report by the Family Planning Association of New Jersey.
The clinics served 131,000 patients in 2010, providing routine gynecological exams, birth control products, health, cancer and sexually transmitted disease screenings, HIV and pregnancy testing and pre-pregnancy counseling, according to the report.