New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law two pieces of legislation that improve access to family planning services yesterday (February 21).
The first, NJ A2134, budgets $7.5 million to the State of New Jersey Department of Health for family planning services. The money will fund family planning services at Planned Parenthood and other clinics that provide "treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, cancer screenings and birth control," according to Politico.
The passage of this legislation is the culmination of an eight-year fight. Former Governor Chris Christie removed family planning funding from the state budget in 2010, and vetoed annual bills from the state legislature that tried to restore it.
Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards gave remarks at the bill signing:
For eight years, it was harder for New Jersey women to access reproductive health care. During [Christie’s] tenure, New Jersey saw a 50 percent increase in STI cases across half its counties. Breast and cervical cancer cases went up, too, disproportionately impacting communities of color. Six women’s health centers in the state closed.
A report released last year by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey provides more context for how women’s health changed between 2009 and 2013. From the report: "Cancer cases increased 5.2 percent among all women in New Jersey, 6.6 percent among African American women—and an astounding 25.1 percent amongst Latinas."
The second bill, NJ A1656, extends Medicaid eligibility for family planning services to people with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty line, up from the previous 100 percent.
This win comes on the heels of Planned Parenthood’s new push to improve access to reproductive rights on the state level.
"Today marks the beginning of a new era," said Richards at the bill signing. "We are going on the offense all across America."