In response to the global recession some of the major donor nations have trimmed back their support for international family planning assistance. But cuts are also happening here at home.
Last Week, New Jersey’s Governor, Chris Christie, cut funding for state-wide family planning programs. He vetoed a bill that would have restored $7.25 million in funding for women’s health services, thus eliminating state funding for 58 family planning centers. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Christie was the first governor to make such steep cuts in family planning.
The Family Planning Association of New Jersey reports that:
New Jersey’s family planning centers last year provided reproductive and preventive health care to 126,903 women and 9,461 men, most of them without health insurance…The clinics provide low-cost birth control, breast exams, pap smears, screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, and prenatal care.
In the rural areas of New Jersey, which boast high levels of cervical cancer, teen pregnancies, and STDs, clinics worry that many women who lack health insurance will not be able to travel long distances to get the services they need.
Governor Christie cited deficit concerns and overspending in vetoing the bill, but providing family planning services actually saves money in the long run. A Guttmacher Institute report estimates that publicly funded family planning services in 2006 helped women avoid 1.94 million unintended pregnancies, which would have resulted in about 860,000 unintended births and 810,000 abortions. The services also saved both federal and state governments $5.1 billion in 2008. Every $1 invested saved $3.74 in Medicaid expenditures.
The state legislature can still override Christie’s veto, which would require 54 votes in the 80-member Assembly, and 27 votes in the 40-member Senate. If 13 Assembly members, who abstained on the first round of voting, support an override of the Governor’s veto, family planning supporters believe they can successfully override the veto.
Family planning saves lives and, in the long run, it also saves money. It’s a no-brainer.
Posted by Emily Pontarelli, Program Associate