Puts New Jersey Women’s Health at Risk

TRENTON, NJ – Last night, Governor Christie vetoed legislation restoring $7.5 million in critical funding for family planning services in the state budget needed to keep New Jersey residents healthy. This comes on the heels of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey’s report, Women’s Health at Risk, which reveals that more than 1.1 million New Jersey women need contraceptive supplies and services and four out of five women with HIV/AIDS are women of color. 

“Family planning is essential health care that women rely on in our state, including cancer screenings and affordable birth control,” said Roslyn Rogers Collins, President/CEO of Planned Parenthood of Metro New Jersey. “Each veto is playing politics with women’s lives.”

In 2010, the Governor eliminated $7.45 million as a state budget line item for family planning and other preventive services including cancer screenings, birth control, testing for and treatment of STIs, breast health services and PAP tests. The funding was never used for abortion services. The Governor has now vetoed legislation to restore the funding six times.

“For many women and teens, accessing family planning services is a primary source of medical care. Many patients only enter the health care delivery system via their need for reproductive health care,” said Lynn Brown, President/CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southern New Jersey. “Without these services, a chasm has opened in the health care delivery system in our state that could have been reduced by restoring these critical funds.”

The Women’s Health at Risk report details the status of women’s reproductive health in each of New Jersey’s 21 counties, compiling gaps in health insurance coverage, incidences of sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy rates and cancer cases across the state. The report also reveals that women of color represent a disproportionate number of New Jersey residents suffering from lack of access to health care. 

“The elimination of family planning funding from the state budget ignores the impact a lack of access to health care has within communities of color,” said Triste Brooks, President/CEO of Planned Parenthood of Central and Greater Northern New Jersey. “This funding was a critical step to address the fact that women of color experience higher rates of reproductive cancers, unintended pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections than most other groups of Americans.”

African-American women are 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than white women and Latinas are 20 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than non-Hispanic white women. Latinas are also more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer than women of any other racial or ethnic group and African-American women with cervical cancer are twice as likely to lose their lives to this disease than are white women.

In addition to family planning funding bridging a gap in health care access for women across New Jersey, research released by the Guttmacher Institute also shows that investing in family planning services not only provides women with more control over their health, but also proves to be smart fiscal policy for the state. For every $1 we invest in family planning services, we save $7 in the long run. And in 2010 alone, the services provided at publicly funded family planning centers in New Jersey helped save $275,766,000 in public funds.