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Weinberg/Greenstein: GOP Vote On Family Planning Will Deprive More Women Of Critical Health Care Services

TRENTON –Senators Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) and Linda Greenstein (D-Mercer) today said the refusal of Senate Republicans to support a measure to override cuts to funding for family planning will deprive more women of critical health care services.

The Senators sponsored a resolution, SCR-210, which would have restored $7.5 million in funding for family planning services in the state budget, $1 million of which would have resulted in a $9 million federal match. The override failed by a vote of 25-14.

“Republicans have demonstrated repeatedly that they are more concerned with carrying out the governor’s right-wing conservative agenda than with representing their own constituents,” said Senator Weinberg. “We are already at a point of crisis when it comes to women’s health care in this state. Funding cuts under this governor have resulted in the closure of six family planning centers in New Jersey, and severe cutbacks in operating hours for those that remain. This action by the minority party will only serve to push more centers to financial collapse, resulting in a lack of access to basic health care services for thousands of women in this state. Additional cases of cancer will go undetected, sexually transmitted infections will go untreated and, because of an inability to access contraceptives, more unplanned pregnancies will occur.”

“Republicans have proven time and again that this issue is about nothing more than pure politics for them. This is truly disheartening, because for thousands of women in this state, this is about their health. This is an issue of access for thousands of low-income women who will now go without routine gynecological exams, cancer screenings, and testing for sexually transmitted infections,” said Greenstein. “Our colleagues on the other side of the aisle will now have to explain to the people of New Jersey why they voted to deprive them of much-needed basic health care services that so many of us take for granted.”

Family Planning funding has increased steadily from 2001 to 2010. The governor eliminated the $7.5 million in last year’s budget. As a result of the defunding, Planned Parenthood closed six centers in New Jersey and saw 4,000 fewer patients in the first quarter of 2011. This year, the governor vetoed $7.5 million Democrats restored in the FY2012 spending plan.

The resolution would have restored the $7.5 million cut. Further, it would have required the state to file the necessary documents for a State Medicaid Plan Amendment from the federal government to expand coverage for family planning services under Medicaid. This expansion would entitle New Jersey to nine dollars in federal reimbursement for every additional dollar the state spends on family planning services provided through the Medicaid.