Roundup: More Fall Out In New Jersey

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Roundup: More Fall Out In New Jersey

Robin Marty

It looks like the media is getting outraged over the family planning funding they lost, but is it too late to matter?

It’s only been a few days since New Jersey lost hope of reinstating their family planning funding, and the media is still reacting.

The Ashbury Park Press rips into the Republicans that voted for the veto override then turned their backs on women when it came time to revote:

Call it short-sighted. Call it a failure of political courage. But whatever else you call it, it is outrageous that New Jersey is now the only state in the union to eliminate, rather than reduce, funding for family planning services. 

The state Senate, in a strict party-line vote, fell four votes short Monday in its effort to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of $7.5 million for 58 family planning health centers after seven Republicans who backed the bill in June voted against it. Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth, was among them. 

Roe is gone. The chaos is just beginning.

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The crocodile tears of Republicans who voted against the override should fool no one. Their public statements amount to variations of “What a shame that so many worthy programs have to be cut in these tough economic times.”

Family planning services are not merely “worthy.” They are a moral imperative. They have provided poor, uninsured and underinsured women access to birth control, breast exams, pap smears and prenatal care. A provision in the bill to restore the funding specifically prohibited the use of public dollars to fund abortions.

Family planning services provide an opportunity for people to act responsibly. The Republicans should give them a chance to do so by acting responsibly themselves.

Daily Record columnist Fred Snowflack calls the move an utter lack of leadership on family planning for the GOP, with many Republicans too cowed to buck their own party.

The governor vetoed the bill and if voting patterns stayed the same, the veto would have been overturned. The voting patterns did not stay the same. When an override vote was taken this week in the Senate, all seven Republicans who had
originally backed family planning money changed their votes.

Why? There is no logical explanation other than the fact they were unwilling to disagree with the governor.

State Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, called the entire episode a “”tip of the hat to the right wing of the Republican party.”

Christie, of course, has every right to tip his hat to the right wing of the Republican party. In fact, he can embrace it anytime he wants. He is the governor, you know, and ever since he began his campaign for governor, he has been anti-abortion. Curiously, the governor was not pro-life when he ran for the state Assembly in 1995, but why worry about ancient history now? Christie surely showed his current colors on this issue when he supported Assemblyman Jay Webber, R-Morris Plains, an abortion opponent, for state party chairman. Webber, you may recall, exchanged op-ed columns in this paper with a Planned Parenthood official over this very issue of family planning money.

The unfortunate thing here was not the governor’s veto. It was that seven Republican senators changed their mind and supported the governor’s veto over their original intentions.

Sadly, non of the media outrage will have any affect on the clinics facing crisis, with one already shut down, and more in the process of closing as well.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

A Cherry Hill family planning center has closed and two others in Burlington County are expected to shut their doors by the end of November because of state budget cuts, advocates said Wednesday.

Joyce Kurzweil, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood of Southern New Jersey, said the organization had closed its Kings Highway facility Monday, the day Democrats in the Legislature failed to restore $7.5 million in state funding to 58 family planning centers statewide.

Gov. Christie eliminated state funding to family planning health centers in his first budget, of $29.4 billion, saying the state did not have the money.

Kurzweil said the decision meant a $160,000 loss in her organization’s budget of just over $3 million. Planned Parenthood of Southern New Jersey also has locations in Burlington, Camden, Atlantic City, and Bellmawr and at Stockton College. She said some locations would likely have to reduce their hours and possibly staff.

“It means a great loss to our clients,” Kurzweil said.

According to her, a married, working mother with two children said this week that she relied on the agency to receive quality health care.

“They look to us, and they expect us to be here for them,” Kurzweil said. “It’s unfortunate that the governor has taken this tack of eliminating services that really save the state money.”

Michele Jaker, executive director of the Family Planning Association of New Jersey, said the Burlington County Health Department was expected to close family planning centers in Browns Mills and Mount Holly by the end of November.

“We know there are going to be others closing. It’s just a matter of negotiating leases, notifying employees, and all that goes with that,” Jaker added.

Mini Roundup: A columnist in Connecticut discusses why crisis pregnancy centers need to be upfront about their agenda, especially when they put it above their “patients'” privacy, and did this mom go overboard trying to promote safe sex?

September 23, 2010