The New Jersey State Senate voted yesterday to restore the state’s family planning funds, two years after Governor Chris Christie defunded the state’s women’s health programs. In a 27-10 vote, the State Senate approved a bill that restores nearly $7.5 million in family planning funding. Christie said he defunded family planning services for budget reasons, but critics have said Christie’s decision was motivated by his anti-abortion stance. The bill, S-788, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Health Committee chairman Joseph F. Vitale, and state Senator Linda Greenstein, will fund the services through the Fiscal Year 2012 budget surplus, which is approximately $524 million.

Greenstein said, “In the last two years, we’ve seen the very real effects of the Governor’s decision to defund women’s health care, and it’s past time to reverse course and open up access to basic health care and family planning services for women. If the Governor is being honest that his objection to family planning funds is based on financial – and not political – concerns, he’ll give our proposal very serious consideration. This bill is about undoing an egregious cut which has resulted in fewer women being able to access the services they need.”

Besides restoring the funding, the bill will also require the state to file for a State Medicaid Plan Amendment, thereby expanding Medicaid funding of family planning services for those who meet income requirements. The bill does not permit state funds to be used for abortions. The bill now goes to the State Assembly for consideration.

NJ Today 6/25/12; NJ 101.5 6/25/12; New Jersey Real-Time News 6/22/12

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