Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, point-woman for women’s health and family planning funding for 8 years of Chris Christie, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women & Girls, and Cecile Richards, outgoing president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and a national hero for many women, sat 1-2-3 to Gov. Phil Murphy’s left today as the new governor spoke about signing his first ever bill into law, restoring $7.5 million in funding to family planning and health clinics in New Jersey – money Chris Christie didn’t see fit to spend, and in doing so, also squandered millions in federal matching funds.
Weinberg introduced a bill for the funding every year of Christie’s term and every year he vetoed it. This day is part of her legacy in the New Jersey Legislature. Chris Christie, angling to be president, hoped to score points with the cultural conservatives of the Republican base who disapprove of the law of the land of legal abortion access. The legislation bars funding from being used for abortions, which anti-abortion activists say is deceptive distinction without a difference. Christie’s decision made it more difficult for poor women to get access to the preventive care the funding underwrote, including breast cancer screenings, HIV tests, pap smears to detect cervical cancer.
The audience was a sea of vivid pink, with in Planned Parenthood tee shirts and pins. Also on the stage at the War Memorial, other sponsors of the legislation. Restoring this funding was a promise important enough to Murphy that he put it into his inaugural address, a promise to sign it, and a request that the legislature hurry up and send it for him to sign. Murphy also signed his second piece of legislation today, which makes contraception available to low income women on Medicaid.