Roundup: New Jersey Family Planning Funds — Here We Go Again


New Jersey state senate is meeting today to vote one more time on overturning Gov. Chris Christie’s override of family planning funding to the state.  The day should be a busy one for the body, which has been met with an onslaught of opinions from groups invested in the issue.

First, the day should start off with a rally.  Via New Jersey Newsroom:

The ongoing battle to restore $7.5 million to family planning clinics in the state will be met in front of the State House on Monday, September 20 at noon. That’s when a slew of women’s groups, including the NJ chapter of the National Organization of Women (NOW/NJ), the League of Women Voters, the National Council of Jewish Women, Health Professional and Allied Employees, the Women’s Political Caucus, and Women Advocating for Good Government (WAGS), will send representatives to call on women in the state to support Senator Loretta Weinberg’s ([D] District 37/Bergen County) bill to override Governor Chris Christie’s July veto of restored funding to Family Health Care.

Legislators are pushing their fellow politicians to consider overriding the veto, citing the need for more family planning access for the women of the state.  Nj.com reports:

Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein is urging her state Senate opponent to join her in voting to restore $7.5 million in family planning funds.

Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) yesterday called on state Sen. Tom Goodwin, her opponent in the upcoming 14th District state Senate special election, to unite with her in an effort to restore the family planning and women’s health funds the governor vetoed in July.

“If the state Legislature does not override the governor’s veto and health care services are not restored, thousands of New Jerseyans will be left without access to critical care,” Greenstein said in a press release. “We cannot afford to leave these people out in the cold without preventative care, gynecological or prenatal treatment, or necessary screenings.”

Other legislators are making their case to the citizens of New Jersey, such as this letter in NorthJersey.com:

It shouldn’t surprise most New Jersey residents by now that Governor Christie’s misguided public policy even extends to women’s health issues. Apparently leaving senior, disabled and low-income residents vulnerable was not enough. Now essential clinical services for women are suddenly the latest target in his maligned cost-cutting crusade.

The budget for the 2011 fiscal year, passed in June, was vacant of funding necessary to support clinical family planning for a meager savings of $7.5 million; this is one of the major reasons why I voted in opposition. So along with several of my colleagues, and the leadership of Sens. Loretta Weinberg and Joseph Vitale, we sponsored a measure to restore funding, only for it to be rebuked by the governor’s midsummer veto.

The governor’s approach to this issue, which did not convey any sort of sensitivity to women’s health concerns, has all kinds of implications, among them precluding access to matching federal funds of about $20 million.

Planned Parenthood estimates that about 40,000 current patients will no longer be able to receive care; that is almost a third of the uninsured patients statewide who depend on its services. Their research suggests that for every dollar spent on public planning, $4 is saved in Medicaid costs. Without adequate family planning services for women, the state will be faced with even higher costs for treatment, and jeopardize access to proactive alternatives for women.

Which services will be limited as a result of the reduction in funding? One in particular is screenings for cervical cancer. The rate in New Jersey exceeds the national average. That is why access to Pap smears and vaccines is so vital. Another is breast exams. It will also affect STD testing, HIV testing and prenatal and postnatal care.

Now it will take opposition by two-thirds of both houses to override the governor’s veto. We have been here before.

It is critical that the Legislature override the governor’s veto and restore family planning funding.

To put it in perspective, New Jersey already ranks in the bottom third nationally of funding for family planning services. I suggest the governor realize the gravity of reducing family planning services.

The legislators who voted against this measure have another chance. They should reevaluate their positions and vote in favor of family planning.

John A. Girgenti

Hawthorne

The writer is a state senator representing the 35th Legislative District.

Even the media itself is editorializing on the need to pass the funding.  The Record writes:

THESE NUMBERS should tell the story of family planning clinics in New Jersey: 136,000 low-income citizens served last year, 40,000 unplanned pregnancies prevented, 28,000 HIV tests and 70,000 breast exams performed.

But there’s only one number that Governor Christie cites when it comes to women’s health: 7.5. As in the $7.5 million cut from the program to balance the state budget — each and every dollar that Trenton sent to 58 clinics across the state last year. As in the $7.5 million cost he used to justify his veto of the Legislature’s vote to reinstate the funding.

To an estimated 40,000 women now shut out of the clinics, without regular screenings for cervical and breast cancer, without access to affordable birth control or prenatal care, he says let them visit federally qualified health centers — generalists already coping with a growing underclass of uninsured New Jerseyans, not to mention those recently trimmed from the rolls of NJ FamilyCare. Let them eat cake.

Still, the worry is that although the bill passed originally with a veto-proof majority, 6 of the 7 Republicans who supported it said they would not override a veto.  Why?  Because even though it explicitly states no money will be used on abortion, Planned Parenthoods in the state would be a receipient of funding should the bill pass, and Republicans would rather see women suffer than have the group get any state dollars.

New Jersey Right to Life spokesperson Mary Tasy expresses their position in a New Jersey Newsroom editorial:

The truth of the matter is that Primary Health Care Facilities and/or FQHCs located throughout the state of NJ are available to provide comprehensive health care for women including those without the ability to pay. In addition, access to routine cancer screenings through the NJ CEED program will be available as well as hospital services through the Charity Care Program if needed.

Planned Parenthood supporters claim that none of the money will be used for abortion, but every single family planning clinic counsels and refers for abortion and some perform abortion. Everyone knows that all money is fungible; providing funding to Planned Parenthood effectively underwrites its abortion business. A recent former director of a Texas Planned Parenthood, Abby Johnson, explained it very clearly when she told interviewers, “Abortion is the most lucrative part of Planned Parenthood’s operations. Even though they’re two separate corporations, all of the money goes into one pot.”

So, how much help will women be missing out on if the veto is not overridden?  NorthJersey.com has the numbers:

The Women’s Health Care Bill, S-2139, would appropriate nearly $7.5 million for family planning clinics where patients receive tests for blood pressure, anemia, breast and cervical cancers, HIV/AIDS and diabetes, McNerney said.

The program helped about 97,000 uninsured people in 2009, with 70,000 women receiving breast examinations and 4,000 of those referred for additional testing, McNerney said.

It aided about 8,100 women, he said, adding that nearly 4,000 of those women also received Pap tests.

The fact that there is a fight to uphold the funding is “outrageous,” said Calabrese, who added that she is a breast cancer survivor.

“What has become of our society here in New Jersey when this sort of thing is being politicized?” Calabrese asked.

Mini Roundup: A Catholic church rescinded its invite to let a local Jewish group use its space for Yom Kippur services because the Rabbi was on the board of Planned Parenthood, and could “sex in space” research renew people’s interest in bring back funding to space programs?

Sep 19

Sep 18

Sep 17

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