Today, women took over the State House Annex, or at least one of its largest committee rooms, at the NJ Women’s Health Forum. Senator Loretta Weinberg hosted, and co-organized with the Women’s Political Caucus.
Weinberg called Gov. Christie’s cuts to women’s health care and family planning a “war” on women.
It was a round-table discussion, convened to examine the impact of Gov. Christie’s budget cuts to women’s health programs and to commemorate National Women’s Health Week. Weinberg, who writes at Blue Jersey regularly, has been the most visible challenger to Gov. Christie’s contention that it’s New Jersey’s economic conditions that forced him to drop state funding for long-standing programs and not the governor’s own ideology, and need to score points with national GOP donors watching him for a future presidential run. Weinberg, with the Democratic women of both houses in the NJ Legislature, is focused on moving Christie to add $1 million in the budget for health services for women earning up to 2x the federal poverty level so New Jersey could get a $9 million federal match. And that 9-1 match is unfortunate evidence that the economic rationale Christie is using, so far, to deny these funds doesn’t add up.
Here’s Senator Weinberg’s statement, delivered after today’s Forum:
Today’s discussion – with women representing a wide array of primary care providers, government officials and social service groups – helped to highlight that funding for women’s health care isn’t just an ideological sticking point. Cuts to women’s health programs have a real-world impact, and that impact is being felt by women around the State who are unable to access basic health care services like cancer screening, STD testing, pre- and post-natal care and yes, contraception.
I know the Governor is fond of his town halls, and the ability to connect one-on-one with ‘real people,’ and today’s roundtable discussion was exactly that – an opportunity for women who are affected by health care cuts to voice their concerns, absent partisan labels or political agendas. I know that if the Governor had been there, he probably would have learned just how short-sighted and unfair his cuts are for women who have nowhere else to turn.
Continues after the jump.
The fact remains that many of the State’s family planning centers and women’s health clinics are the first point of care to direct women to services they need to stay healthy. You cannot get a mammogram without first getting a breast exam from your primary care provider or family planning center. To date, the Governor’s cuts to family planning – and his refusal to apply for generous matching federal funds for Medicaid-eligible women – have resulted in 40,000 women being turned away from these centers.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen a trend in this country among the politically far right to push for the defunding and dismantling of women’s health programs. Family planning has become a four-letter word to conservative ideologues whose brand of leadership is to impose their views on everyone else through backroom political maneuvering or non-debatable decree.
Whether it’s conservative Congressmen trying to overturn federal support for women’s health, or our own Governor Chris Christie refusing to seek a 9-to-1 match in federal dollars for family planning, the war on women from conservative politicians rages on. Unfortunately, every day people are left to deal with the aftermath of fewer services and fewer access points to care resulting from a policy agenda that is simply out of touch with the will of the people.