A controversial $7.5 million outlay for women’s health and family-planning clinics was approved by a veto-proof 30-10 votes in the state Senate Monday and earlier this morning endorsed by the Assembly by a 42-22 margin, with 13 abstentions. The bills, S-2139/A3019, reverses a cut by Gov. Chris Christie in the 2011 budget to provide family planning and health services for low-income women and children. Democratic members of the women’s caucus, including state Senator Loretta Weinberg, a sponsor of the bill, accused Christie of cutting the funding from the budget based more on ideology than fiscal restraint. The $7.5 million in funding gets a Medicaid match of nine to one, and Weinberg, D-Bergen, and fellow Democrats said the bill would be cost-neutral because they identified surplus funds in the state employees’ prescription fund plan to pay for it. Weinberg and Senate co-sponsor Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, said the bill prohibits the funds to be used for abortions but it does provide for contraception, gynecological exams, screening for breast and cervical cancer as well as high blood pressure, anemia and diabetes among other things.
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