Source: NJ Spotlight.com
If all goes as planned, the 2017 election results will benefit the hundreds of thousands of women and their families who depend on free and low-cost clinics for cancer screenings, birth control, and other healthcare services.
Supporters have said the dollars are desperately needed since Republican Gov. Chris Christie suspended in 2011 what had become an annual state appropriation of nearly $7.5 million to support Planned Parenthood and other women’s healthcare providers.
Murphy has prioritized the reinstatement of public funding for these clinics and highlighted the issue during his campaign to defeat Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, a Republican who said she supported women’s healthcare in general, but would not have allocated state dollars for this purpose.
While Murphy campaign staff declined yesterday to provide details on the specific timing of restoring the funding, the governor-elect has made clear the issue is high on his list. Democrats in the state Legislature are also eager to restore the budget line and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) has said it will be among his caucus’ early goals after Murphy takes office in January.
“Women’s health funding has been decimated under this administration, resulting in a decline in services and the closure of family planning centers in the state,” Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) said. “It is critical that we restore funding so that women have access to the vital services they need, including life-saving cancer screenings, birth control, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, and more.”
While healthcare issues, in general, did not occupy much bandwidth during this fall’s general election, Planned Parenthood and other advocates worked hard to keep funding for women’s care on the agenda. Planned Parenthood also invested directly in the elections — least $22,000 to support Murphy and other candidates and more than $120,000 on advertising, campaign supplies, phone banks, and food and other supports for volunteers, according to reports filed with the state’s Election Law Enforcement Commission. The strategy appears to have paid off.
“New Jersey should be a leader when it comes to reproductive health,” said Christine Sadovy, the action fund’s political and legislative director. “Our supporters will continue to take action in 2018 and beyond to make women’s rights and health a priority.”