By Erin Delmore
“We strongly believe that access to health care is a right, not a privilege,” said Lisa Block, senior program officer for the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey.
Advocates took aim at the upcoming congressional vote to cut federal funding for women’s reproductive health. It’s set for Tuesday.
“Republicans really need to stop this unnecessary attack and focus on issues that pertain to moving this country forward,” said Congressman Donald Payne Jr.
Earlier this month President Obama vetoed a bill to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal portions of the Affordable Care Act. Next week’s vote aims to override that veto.
The movement’s been gathering steam since a pair of anti-abortion activists shot an undercover video last summer purporting to show a Planned Parenthood official trying to sell fetal tissue for profit. A Texas grand jury indicted those two undercover activists and cleared Planned Parenthood earlier this week.
“Sometimes the good guys do win, but the battle still continues,” said Roslyn Rogers Collins, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan New Jersey.
Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan New Jersey served almost 17,000 people among five Essex and Passaic County health centers in 2015. That’s 25,000 visits, ranging from cancer screenings to STI testing and contraceptive care.
The northern New Jersey chapter is one of 59 nation-wide. It receives about half its revenue through federal funding. Federal dollars may not be used to fund abortions.
Planned Parenthood says abortions make up just three percent of its services nationally and that it provides life-saving services, like breast and cervical cancer screenings and is often the only place its low income clients get medical care.
“Eighty-eight percent of the patients who come through our doors are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines,” Collins said.
“What would we do without Planned Parenthood? Where would these women go?” Payne asked.
It takes a two-thirds majority of the House and Senate to override a presidential veto. While Congressional Republicans don’t have the votes, House Speaker Paul Ryan says it’s about sending a message to President Obama and teeing up a campaign issue in this election year.
This exchange took place during last night’s Republican presidential debate between Bret Baier and Gov. Chris Christie:
Baier: Can you name even one thing that the federal government does now that it should not do at all?
Christie: Yeah. You want one?
Baier: Yeah, I want one.
Christie: How about one that I’ve done in New Jersey for the last six years and that’s get rid of Planned Parenthood funding for the United States of America.
“He just continues to embarrass the state of New Jersey,” Payne said. “He’s not going to be president, so we don’t have to worry about it.”
The governor’s first test comes Monday, as Iowa caucus-goers kick off the nomination season.