During a ceremony at the Trenton War Memorial on Wednesday morning, New Jersey governor Phil Murphy signed a bill expanding Medicaid coverage for family planning services and said his administration would loosen restrictions that prevent some low-income mothers from getting long-acting reversible contraceptives immediately after childbirth.
“Today we are saying in a clear voice that New Jersey will once again stand for the right things,” Murphy said. “New Jersey will once again stand up for women’s health.”
Joining the governor were his wife, Tammy, lawmakers and advocates, including outgoing Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, who for 12 years has led her organization through polarizing national debates about abortion and ongoing calls from conservatives to “defund Planned Parenthood.” Several Planned Parenthood clinics in New Jersey could benefit from the new funding.
(Former Governor Chris) Christie’s decision to veto the spending had real healthcare consequences. Advocates link the lack of state funding to the closure in 2010 of six family planning clinics, which they say deprived women of access to cancer screenings and breast exams, and to rising rates of sexually transmitted diseases in New Jersey.
“I think it was a cautionary tale of what happens when people in elected office put their politics ahead of women’s health care,” Ricards said, “and we’re here today to say no more in New Jersey and no more across the United States of America.”
Murphy said his bill signing now signals that “the era of putting personal politics before the needs of countless thousands of New Jerseyans is over.” He singled out Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, for praise as the champion for family planning funding under Christie.
Under the first bill Murphy signed, S-120, the nonprofit New Jersey Family Planning League will administer the $7.5 million in grant funding and dole it out to family planning clinics across the state. None of the money can be used for “abortion procedures,” according to the bill.
Murphy also announced that the state would remove a restriction in NJ Family Care, the state’s insurance program for low-income people, that prevents mothers from receiving long-acting reversible contraceptives, such as intrauterine devices and hormonal implants, immediately after childbirth. The governor’s office said the change will decrease the odds of rapid repeat pregnancies that increase the risks of complications in childbearing, including low birth weight and an increased rate of preterm delivery.