(TRENTON) – Legislation co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin to restore state funding for family planning centers was signed into law on Wednesday.
The law (A-2134) provides $7.5 million for the current fiscal year in supplemental funding for women’s health care grants through the state Department of Health.
Despite being funded in every state budget since 1970, Governor Christie routinely eliminated the $7.4 million appropriation for women’s health care services in the state budget every year of his tenure.
Assembly Democrats repeatedly attempted to restore the funding only to have it vetoed by Christie. By signing this legislation into law on Wednesday, Murphy redirected the funding back to family planning centers throughout the state.
“We cannot immediately undo the damage of eight years of vetoed women’s health care funding under Governor Christie,” Murphy said. “But we can put the era of putting personal politics before the needs of countless thousands of New Jerseyans behind us. We are one state, one family, and we will stand in support of everyone’s access to family planning, to prenatal care, and to life-saving cancer screenings.”
The sponsors noted that in 2009 the funding helped support life-saving services for over 136,000 patients, including cancer screenings, birth control, prevention and treatment of STIs, breast health services, Pap tests and other health screenings.
As a direct result of Christie’s cuts, six out of 58 women’s health and family planning centers closed while other health centers had to cut back staff or hours. In 2013, New Jersey’s family planning providers saw at least 37,000 fewer patients compared with 2009 – a 27 percent drop in patients served.
“Since this funding was cut in 2011, family planning centers throughout the state have continually turned patients away; with some centers having to close their facilities all together,” said Pintor Marin (D-Essex). “After eight years of depriving patients of treatment opportunities, we are finally able to put these funds back into the right hands and properly invest in saving the lives of women and children throughout New Jersey.”
The sponsors noted that the legislation expressly prohibits the funding from being used towards abortion services.
Murphy also signed legislation (S105/A1656) providing Medicaid coverage for family planning services to low-income individuals.
The Governor also announced that New Jersey will remove NJ FamilyCare’s restriction on Long-Acting Reversible Contraception immediately post-partum. That change will decrease the odds of rapid repeat pregnancies that have higher incidence of adverse costly perinatal complications, including low birth weight and an increased rate of preterm delivery.