Lawmakers battle over family planning funds in New Jersey
In 2010, Gov. Chris Christie eliminated $7.45 million as a state budget line item for family planning and other women's health services. Every since then, Democratic lawmakers have added the funding into the state budget only to see Christie veto the money out.
Democratic leaders have included the funding again in this year's spending plan that the full legislature was expected to approve Thursday.
"This bill doesn't really have anything to do with women's health care," said Assembly Republican Budget Officer Declan O'Scanlon (R-Red Bank). "If one looks at the facts there is no shortage of availability for women's health care."
In mid-June, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey issued a report, 'Women's Health at Risk,' which stated that more than 1.1 million New Jersey women need contraceptive supplies and services. At a June 22 rally at the State House, Roslyn Rogers Collins, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan New Jersey said the elimination of the family planning funds in the state budget in New Jersey took away health care that women relied on in our state, including cancer screenings and affordable birth control.
"I have, every single time this bill comes up, asked for examples of women who are having trouble accessing health care. Not one has come forward," O'Scanlon said. "This is a blatant political move which we've proven now year after year. It's just a way to have another talking point to beat the governor up about his supposed lack of care for women."
Supporters of the funding said the Affordable Care Act gave more New Jerseyans access to health care services, but said many are falling through the cracks and restoring the family planning funding is critical.
Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Newark) invited O'Scanlon to visit her city or any urban area to find out if women are getting the services they need.
"I hate to bring this reality, but you go to practically any street corner, any block and you'll find plenty of women that will say that they have an issue with really being provided with some of the services," Pintor Marin said, adding that saying the issue doesn't exist simply isn't true.