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Assemblywomen Linda Stender, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Celeste M. Riley, Linda R. Greenstein and Pamela R. Lampitt today deemed Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to veto $7.5 million for women’s health care an affront to women, families and taxpayers throughout New Jersey.

The lawmakers sponsored legislation (S-2139/A-3019) to restore the money that received final legislative approval on June 28, but was vetoed by the governor today.

“This cruel and heartless veto is the height of arrogance and irresponsibility,” said Stender (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset), a vocal opponent of Christie’s plan to cut family planning services. “Restoring these programs would have saved lives and money and kept New Jerseyans – especially women – from needlessly dying from diseases that can be treated with proper screening, but Gov. Christie clearly has another agenda.”

“It’s appalling that Gov. Christie is callously turning his back on vital services for women and newborns that improve public health while saving taxpayer money,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “This is an irresponsible decision that defies explanation and shoves New Jersey back into the dark ages and will cost taxpayers dearly in the months to come.”

“Investing in family planning services would have saved the state 20 times what it cost to restore the programs,” said Riley (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “This was an investment we had to make, and Gov. Christie’s refusal to do so will tragically cost the health and lives of many New Jersey women and newborns.”

“The health needs of poor and working-class families – especially women, mothers and newborns – cannot simply be written off to balance the state’s books, but that’s exactly what the governor has done,” said Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “We have a moral obligation to protect the most vulnerable among us and ensure they receive the care they need to live healthy, productive lives and save taxpayer dollars, but apparently Gov. Christie has other priorities.”

“Spending cuts are needed, but they must be the right ones, not ones that attack the quality of life and health care of thousands of women and newborns,” said Lampitt (D-Camden). “The governor’s veto will hurt women and children throughout this state, potentially for years to come, and brings into question the governor’s true priorities.”

The lawmakers noted more than 136,000 patients were served by family planning in New Jersey last year, helping prevent 40,000 pregnancies and 19,000 abortions and saving the state more than $150 million. The legislation vetoed today explicitly prevents the funding from being used for abortions and would also have required New Jersey to apply for a 90 percent match in federal dollars, a move that would save the state an estimated $90 million over the next five years.

Family planning 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.

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