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As the global community today celebrates the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, the Democratic women on the Assembly Budget Committee pointed out the tragic irony that in New Jersey women are suffering monumental setbacks under the Christie administration.

“As countries around the world, even those far less progressive than the United States, celebrate major advancements for women, in New Jersey we are witnessing budget choices that have left women stripped of critical access to health care,” said Assemblywoman Nellie Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic). “On this 100th anniversary, New Jersey has unfortunately taken a monumental step backwards.”

“For the second straight year, the Christie administration has decided that access to cancer screenings, birth control and preventative care are unimportant for the working poor women of this state,” said Assemblywoman Joan Quigley (D-Bergen/Hudson). “New Jersey has long been known as a progressive and compassionate state, but under the Christie administration we have taken a major step in the wrong direction.”

“It is tragic that the ‘new normal’ under Governor Christie means adjusting to a lower standard of living unless you are part of the wealthiest one percent in this state,” said Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer). “With unemployment still hovering at near record levels, this is no time to be balancing our budget on the backs of the working poor and the middle class.”

Since 1911, the global community has marked International Women’s Day (8 March) with a celebration that has expanded over the years to honor the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is a national holiday.

The lawmakers noted, however, that in New Jersey, for the second straight year, the Christie administration has proposed eliminating the entire state subsidy for vital women’s health and family planning services to some of New Jersey’s poorest women. In the past, the $7.5 million subsidy provided by the state helped family planning and health centers throughout the state service more than 136,000 patients, preventing 40,000 pregnancies and 19,000 abortions and saving the state more than $150 million.

These services involve contraception; 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; HIV testing and counseling, pre-pregnancy counseling and education; pregnancy testing and confirmation; and prenatal care.