STENDER, CONAWAY, VAINIERI HUTTLE, WAGNER VOW TO RESTORE WOMEN’S HEALTH FUNDING

Join With Other Democratic Legislators to Fight for Funding Restoration to Protect Women & Children

Assembly Democrats today joined with their counterparts in the Senate to stand up for women’s health, vowing to fight to pass legislation reversing the Christie administration’s budget cuts that have endangered women’s access to healthcare throughout the state.

Assembly members Linda Stender, Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D., Valerie Vainieri Huttle, and Connie Wagner spoke to a packed crowd on the steps of the Statehouse in Trenton. They were also joined in support by Assembly members Peter Barnes, Dan Benson, Elease Evans, Mila Jasey, John McKeon and Jason O’Donnell.

“Today we are standing up for women’s rights,” said Stender (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset). “The Governor and his Republican colleagues have made their choice to turn their backs on women’s health and stand with millionaires instead. We must carry on this fight and make sure we have the votes to override any veto by the Governor. Republicans in the legislature need to search their souls and decide if they want to continue in lockstep with the Governor or stand up for the working poor of this state and their right to healthcare.”

“The Governor has made it clear that this is not about the money. It’s about his ideology,” said Conaway (D-Burlington/Camden). “I work in a clinic and I see the ravages of his budget decisions day in and day out. He has cut funding for AIDS drugs, for women’s healthcare and for the poor while giving the state’s wealthiest a tax cut. It’s not right for the poor to suffer while the rich go on vacation. Our Republican colleagues need to assert their independence and join us in standing up for this legislation.”

“This issue transcends all of us,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “I wish I could say ‘what a difference a year makes’ and mean it in a positive way. Instead, when we look back over the last 12 months, we see scores of women’s health clinics closing, 19,000 families unable to enroll in FamilyCare and now the Governor is proposing to kick 93,000 people off Medicaid. With only those families earning less than $5,000 eligible for Medicaid under the Governor’s proposed budget, now more than ever we need to fight for women’s health funding.”

“Not only is this about standing up for women’s health, this about fighting for all of the working families in this state who are falling through the cracks thanks to the Governor’s disastrous budget decisions,” said Wagner (D-Bergen). “This weekend I met a woman who lost her husband a few years ago, as well as her job and her health benefits. She now has a job in emergency medical services making $18 an hour with no health benefits. She relies on Planned Parenthood for life-saving services like mammograms and pap smears. These are the people we need to continue fighting for and I urge my Republican colleagues to stand with us.”

The lawmakers noted that prior to the Governor’s funding cut last year, more than 131,000 patients were served by family planning centers in New Jersey. Since the Governor’s cuts in funding, many clinics have scaled 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.

Family planning centers and women’s health clinics provide 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.