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Assembly Democrats Linda Stender, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Celeste Riley, Connie Wagner and Pamela Lampitt, who have helped lead the fight to protect women’s health, today applauded the passage of a budget that restores critical funding to provide access to health care for low and middle income women.

“This debate is about three things: quality of life, the priorities we embrace as a state and a woman’s inherent right to make her own health decisions,” said Stender (D-Middlesex/ Somerset/Union). “The Governor has continually turned his back on the women of this state, choosing ideology over compassion. His shortsighted decision ignores important facts. This funding will help save lives and help women choose when they want to start a family and ultimately prevents abortions.”

“Gov. Christie may have callously turned his back on vital services for women and newborns in his last budget but he has the ability to correct his mistake this time around,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Doing so will improve public health for some of our least fortunate, while saving taxpayers money. These are ideals that everyone should be able to embrace. Unfortunately, time and again, the Governor and his Republican colleagues have relegated the needs of low-income women to the sidelines.”

“This is one of those moral tests of government,” said Riley (D-Salem/Cumberland/ Gloucester). “In tough fiscal times, the priorities we choose show our true character. From a financial perspective, this is an investment we should make, and from a human perspective, this is an investment we must make.”

“This budget does more than just provide healthcare for poor women and newborns, it saves taxpayer dollars that would otherwise be spent treating these women and infants in hospital emergency rooms after they have become seriously ill,” said Wagner (D-Bergen). “If Gov. Christie is serious about saving taxpayers money, he should embrace this budget.”

“This is about more than just health services, it is a fundamental debate about access to healthcare,” said Lampitt (D-Camden). “In difficult economic times, this access becomes even more strained due to high unemployment rates. This funding will help ensure that every New Jerseyan, regardless of sex, race, religion or socioeconomic status, has the right to seek certain fundamental healthcare services.”

Since Governor Christie first eliminated this funding in last year’s budget, the lawmakers have continued to fight to restore $7.5 million to help provide roughly 131,000 women, children and families with access to routine gynecological exams; screening for high blood pressure, anemia and diabetes; breast and cervical cancer screening and education; screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections; contraception; HIV testing and counseling, pre-pregnancy counseling and education; pregnancy testing and confirmation and prenatal care.

Over the last year, the Governor’s cuts in funding have forced many clinics to scale back their services and hours and six clinics throughout the state have closed, including the Bayonne Women’s Health Center, the Dover Health Center, FamCare in Millville, and two sites operated by the Burlington County Health Department in Browns Mills and Mount Holly.