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February 1, 2018

Contact: Casey Olesko 201.647.5502 / [email protected]

Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey applauds step toward improving reproductive health care access

New Jersey Senate votes yes on restoring family planning funding

TRENTON, NJ – Today, the New Jersey Senate passed two bills – the first bills of the 218th legislative session – to help expand access to reproductive health services in New Jersey. S120 passed 29-9 with bipartisan support; this bill will reinstate the $7.45 million in reproductive health care funding cuts made by former Governor Christie. This funding goes toward critical health care services, including cancer screenings, birth control, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). S105, a bill to expand Medicaid coverage for reproductive health services to more New Jersey women, passed 34-5 with bipartisan support. The New Jersey Legislature has voted on these bills numerous times in previous sessions in order to restore funding for family planning services to the state budget; however, Christie repeatedly vetoed those bills. Governor Phil Murphy has promised to sign the family planning funding restoration bill into law.

Thursday’s vote followed a morning press conference featuring legislative champions who have worked over the past eight years to restore this funding for the thousands of patients that Planned Parenthood and other family planning providers care for every year. Speakers at the press conference included Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senator Linda Greenstein, Senator Kip Bateman, Senator Nick Scutari, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera, Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin, and Assemblywoman Joann Downey.

“In the face of an anti-women’s health administration, we worked tirelessly over the last eight years to restore this lifesaving funding and reverse the devastating impact of Governor Christie’s family planning cuts,” said Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg. “It is critical that we restore access to care, which is why we made it a priority to send these bills to the governor’s desk early in the legislative session. I look forward to seeing these measures signed into law.”

“We have fought aggressively for the restoration of family planning funds, and added millions of dollars to the budget over the last eight years, because we believe access to preventive care, cancer screenings, STI testing and other services is critically important. We are proud to have moved these bills so quickly in the new session. With this legislation, we will finally see an expansion of coverage for family planning services and funding restored so that health care facilities like Planned Parenthood are available and accessible to women in this state,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney.

“The loss of family planning funding has had serious consequences for women and families in this state,” said Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Union). “We now have the opportunity to restore millions of dollars in grants for family planning clinics that provide a range of critical health services that women deserve. This should not be a partisan issue – this is about investing in the health of women and families in our state.”

“Family planning services are vital to the health of New Jerseyans, and the state has left millions of dollars on the table in Washington because of the decision by the Christie Administration to veto our legislation,” said Senator Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex, Mercer). “I’m glad we are finally turning the page and moving forward with funding these services and getting money from the federal government that is available to us and that we should have been receiving for years.”

“Access to reproductive health care should not be a partisan issue,” said Senator Kip Bateman (R-Somerset). “I am proud to have supported this bill in the past and I am proud to have voted for it on the floor today.”

Since the cuts, there have been statewide increases in bacterial STDs, as well as increases in breast and cervical cancer cases with a disproportionate impact on communities of color — leaving the state in a public health crisis. Immediately following the initial funding cuts, six family planning health centers closed their doors, including centers in Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Hudson, and Morris counties. Other centers cut hours, services, or staff, leading to increased wait times for time-sensitive services and increased distances to travel for care.

Planned Parenthood supporters have worked for the past eight years to ensure that New Jersey did not forget about the patients who rely on New Jersey’s family planning providers. Volunteer activists stood up and made their voices heard. They wrote letters to the editor, called their elected officials, and held rallies at their legislators’ offices in district and right here in Trenton. In addition to these passionate supporters, Governor Murphy also made his position on women’s health well known. On the campaign trail, Governor Murphy pledged not only to restore funding, but also to work to fill the gaps left by nearly a decade of withheld resources. Studies have shown that publicly funded family planning saves taxpayer money. Every dollar invested saves over $7 in Medicaid and other public expenditures.

This funding is also supported by the vast majority of New Jerseyans. Two separate polls from the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling showed that three-quarters of New Jerseyans support these funds. The polls also showed strong bipartisan support.

“We commend the Senate for passing this bill, and now we urge the Assembly to once again pass this bill and stand up for women’s rights,” said Christine Sadovy, Legislative and Political Director with Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey. “However, we cannot stop there. For New Jersey to be a leader when it comes to reproductive care, our elected officials must continue working to ensure that every woman and family in our state has access to the care they need to be healthy.”