NJ lawmakers want to chip in another $10M for Planned Parenthood
New Jersey lawmakers are poised to earmark nearly another $10 million for health care providers, including Planned Parenthood, amid a struggle against a restrictive federal court ruling that impacts reproductive rights.
Planned Parenthood announced Monday that it had withdrawn from the federal Title X program after the 9th Circuit Court ruled that President Trump's administration gag rule can take effect while litigation proceeds.
State Senate President Steve Sweeney D-Gloucester, and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, also unveiled legislation Monday that would provide another $9.5 million to the Department of Health for such health care providers withdrawing from Title X.
The gag rule restricts Title X recipients from providing abortion referrals.
Until now, Planned Parenthood was in the program since it was created and historically has been the largest national provider, serving 40% of all Title X patients in the United States.
Title X provides affordable birth control and reproductive health care to people with low incomes, as established in 1970.
In New Jersey, more than 70% of 100,000 patients served by Title X received care at a Planned Parenthood health center, according to the provider. The state has two affiliates, Planned Parenthood of Northern, Central, and Southern New Jersey and Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan New Jersey.
Services are offered for women and men, including birth control education and supplies, emergency contraception (AKA the morning after pill), pregnancy testing and counseling, STD testing and testing or screening for cervical, testicular or prostate cancer.
Last year, Planned Parenthood was the sole Title X provider in 13 of New Jersey's 21 counties.
According to Planned Parenthood, all other Title X-funded sites in New Jersey would have to increase their contraceptive client caseloads by 254% to serve the women who currently obtain birth control from Planned Parenthood health centers.
“Doctors should be able to tell their patients whatever they feel is in their best interest, including recommendations for where to seek further care. It is unethical for the federal government to leverage funding to prevent doctors from sharing certain information with their patients,” state Senate President Stephen Sweeney said in a written statement Wednesday.
The legislation (S-4103) was proposed for introduction at the next quorum, when it officially will be read in and assigned to committee, according to the Senate Democrats' office.
U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J. 12th District, issued the following statement:
“This is a disaster for millions of Americans who rely on Planned Parenthood for basic health care and access to birth control. The only reason we’ve reached this point is the Trump administration’s gag rule. From the beginning this rule has been a back-end run on Planned Parenthood, targeting their services and turning a blind eye to the basic fact that tax dollars have not now and not ever been used for abortion. It’s already illegal, period."
The proposed funding is beyond an appropriations bill Gov. Phil Murphy signed last month, along with the budget, which sets aside $10.5 million for family planning services such as Planned Parenthood, a 40% increase from fiscal year 2019 (which ends in September).
"Since this funding was restored after being zeroed out by the Christie administration, thousands of New Jersey women have regained access to vital health care, including life-saving cancer screenings, at health clinics statewide," Murphy said in a June 30 statement.
The first bill Murphy signed as governor, after taking office in 2018, restored nearly $7.5 million to the state budget that was eliminated in 2010 by then Gov. Chris Christie, who subsequently vetoed yearly efforts to restore it.
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