For Immediate Release: June 29, 2017
Contact: Casey Olesko- [email protected], 201.647.5502
Family Planning Funding Override Vote Falls Short: Legislators Not Willing to Stand Up for Women
TRENTON, NJ – Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey is deeply disappointed that the historic override of Governor Christie and the restoration of family planning funding in New Jersey has fallen short because of legislators who were not willing to stand up for women’s health. Despite recent polling showing that 78 percent of New Jersey voters support state funding for family planning services, members of the state legislature put politics over women’s lives and failed to restore funding for the lifesaving reproductive health services New Jerseyans rely on.
“Today, some of our elected officials squandered the opportunity to leave a legacy of standing up for New Jersey women and saving lives,” said Christine Sadovy, Legislative Director with Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey. “We will continue to fight to make sure that access to health care does not depend on a person’s income or zip code.”
For seven years, New Jersey’s women, men, and young people have suffered from diminished access to reproductive health care as a result of Governor Christie’s elimination of family planning from the state budget in 2010. That year, Governor Christie eliminated a $7.45 million line item for family planning services from the state budget. This funding went to providing preventive reproductive health care services (including breast and cervical cancer screenings, birth control, and testing and treatment for STDs and HIV) at New Jersey’s family planning providers, including Planned Parenthood and other community providers.
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.
Since 2009, according to publicly available data summarized in Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey’s Access at Risk report, the number of cases of bacterial STDs has risen 35 percent statewide – and in 11 out of New Jersey’s 21 counties, the increase has been nearly 50 percent or more. Notably, there has been a national increase in new STD cases, but New Jersey’s uptick predates this trend.
The funding cuts have also had a disproportionate impact on communities of color. Between 2009 and 2013, the number of breast and cervical cancer cases has risen 5.2 percent among all New Jersey women, 0.3 percent among white women, 6.6 percent among Black women, and an alarming 25.1 percent among Latinas.
Inequity in health care access is linked to factors like income, and barriers like ability and time to go to a health care provider. This is compounded when politicians place additional barriers to essential and lifesaving health care. A recent national survey showed that many women aren’t getting their recommended cancer screenings – especially Black women and Latinas. When asked what prevented them from getting checked for cervical cancer, women of color cited cost, time, and distance were barriers to care.
In addition to being essential preventive care, family planning services are also overwhelmingly supported in the community. More than 20 national polls show that the public stands with Planned Parenthood. A June 2017 poll from the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute showed that 76 percent of New Jersey voters support no-copay birth control; 94 percent think insurance companies shouldn’t charge women more than men for the same policy; and 95 percent think insurance should cover preventive care with no out-of-pocket costs.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey will continue to advocate for the protection and expansion of reproductive health care in the Garden State. As the past several months have shown, Planned Parenthood supporters are passionate and have been taking action in every corner of the state. Whether it was through “pinking out” the State House, rallying in the community, or calling their legislators, our supporters made their voices heard loud and clear – and will continue to do so, no matter what.