New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) on Wednesday will sign a bill to restore Planned Parenthood funding lost under former Gov. Chris Christie (R).
“When the Christie administration defunded Planned Parenthood and women’s health clinics, tens of thousands of women throughout New Jersey lost access to quality, affordable primary care. It’s time to right that wrong,” Murphy wrote in a social media post. Planned Parenthood’s outgoing president, Cecile Richards, is expected to join the governor when he signs the pro-choice bill Wednesday morning.
Christie’s vetoes over seven years added up to more than $50 million in lost investments in women’s health. It led six of 58 clinics statewide to close and 14 others to scale back hours. It led to soaring rates of sexually transmitted disease.
Murphy’s signature this week will restore $7.45 million to women’s health care centers, and a separate bill, still pending in the state assembly but passed in the state senate, would expand eligibility for people to get family planning services under Medicaid. The money would help thousands of New Jersey residents access birth control, cancer screenings, and sexually transmitted infections testing and treatment.
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“New Jersey shows what’s possible when we unite and work to pass policies that protect people’s rights and access to health care. We need to build on this momentum and fight forward state by state and bill by bill,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told Rewire. “In this moment of tremendous grassroots energy and activism, it’s not enough to fight against bad policies. We need to push for good ones that benefit people.”
This will be one of the first state-level proactive reproductive rights bills signed into law in 2018 and will hopefully be “a harbinger for a new day for women’s health around the nation,” Kelly Baden, director of Reproductive Rights at State Innovation Exchange, told Rewire.
“The restoration of family planning funding in New Jersey is a clear sign that it is a new day for reproductive health in the Garden State. Not only does this move help thousands of people in New Jersey get the health care they need, but it sends a clear signal that the eight years of harming women’s health we saw under Chris Christie are over,” she said.
Murphy has promoted a progressive agenda after eight years of his predecessor’s regressive policies. Murphy’s other health-care priorities include lowering insurance premiums, expanding addiction treatment access, and providing health insurance for the state’s 75,000 uninsured children.
He has already acted on some of his campaign promises.
In his first week, Murphy signed an executive order promoting equal pay and has since outlined an ethics order, an order to improve Affordable Care Act enrollment, supported labor union rights, and joined a federal lawsuit to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients.
The restoration of Planned Parenthood funding was passed in the majority-Democratic New Jersey General Assembly last Thursday, according to news reports. The legislation was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester), along with state Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Somerset).
Democrats had previously tried to restore the money but Christie repeatedly vetoed their efforts.