Once again legislators are going to give Gov. Chris Christie the opportunity to either approve or line-item veto $7.435 million in funding for women’s health programs.
This will be the third year in a row that the Democrats have tried to restore the allocation for non-profit women’s healthcare centers, after Christie cut it citing a budget crisis. Christie has consistently said it is not an ideological decision. The funds were devoted to supporting family planning clinics such as Planned Parenthood but were specifically prohibited from being used for abortion procedures.
The Assembly passed the bill 46-31. Assemblywoman Connie Watson Coleman, the bill’s sponsor, said the $7.4 million was a small amount in light of a $31.7 billion state budget. Since the 2011 cuts, a number of clinics around the state have been shut down, and there’s been across the board decreases in service since 2009, including a 19 percent drop in patients served, a 23.6 percent drop in clinical breast exams, and a 6 percent drop in HIV testing.
Watson Coleman also cited a statistic from the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks sexual and reproductive policies, claiming preventative services provided by family planning clinics saves taxpayers $3.74 for every $1 that is spent.