For the fifth year in a row, state funding for women’s health clinics has been cut — this time by $7.5 million. Six women’s health clinics that provided routine checkups and cancer screenings have closed. Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-22) told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that the women’s heath clinics provide various services.
“These clinics provide basic health care to women,” said Stender. “Pap smears, breast exams, full gynecological exams. So they are, for many women, their primary health care.”
Stender said that in the past the clinics have provided services to neighborhoods that are not served by major hospitals or private doctors. According to Stender, the clinics provide access to affordable health care and that about six clinics have closed.
Since 1970, women’s health care centers have been funded, but recently Gov. Chris Christie said that the state cannot afford to fund the centers any more. Stender said that it doesn’t make sense.
“That’s just plain nonsense and it’s not true,” Stender said. “It’s just not a priority of his or his administration. It was less than 1 percent of the budget and when you look at it, we went and said to him, make a cut. If this is something about cutting, everybody’s feeling the pain. You can reduce the funding but with every dollar that you put in, it’s not only about our money. There’s a federal match.”
According to Stender, there is a 9-to-1 match that comes back from the federal government. Along with a $7.5 million cut, Stender says that the state lost another $63 million in federal funding that included Medicaid funding.
Christie recently boosted the allocation for the state’s domestic violence agencies and the NJ Coalition For Battered Women by $1.8 million. Stender said that is a different issue and that it is an ideological battle on the governor’s part.
Stender said the women’s health care centers do not provide pregnancy termination and do not pay for abortions. The clinics do provide access to birth control and counseling to women on what their choices are, she said.
On what is next, Stender said, “We’re going to fight this. I believe this is just a part of his script for running for president. It’s been part of an ongoing trend of his to take steps and make moves based on what would play in Iowa rather than what would play in New Jersey. It’s a disgrace. We’re going to continue to fight because we’ve lost access, we’ve lost funding, we’ve lost health care for women and this is a fight worth fighting that I continue to fight.”