POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Murphy reverses Christie veto on family planning funding

BY Michael Aron, Chief Political Correspondent |

There was an air of celebration at the Trenton War Memorial Wednesday morning as Gov. Phil Murphy made women’s health funding the first piece of legislation he has signed as governor.

“Today we are saying in a clear voice that New Jersey will once again stand for the right thing, New Jersey will once again stand up for women’s health, New Jersey will once again stand strong in support of Planned Parenthood and for reproductive rights,” Murphy said.

For eight years, Gov. Chris Christie cut funding for Planned Parenthood and women’s health out of the budget. The Democratic Legislature would put the money back in. Christie would veto that, and the Legislature would not have enough votes to override him. Christie always said he was doing it to save $7.5 million and that federally qualified health centers could pick up the slack. Then he ran for president and spun it for Republican voters as a move to restrict abortions.

“We are saying the era of putting personal politics before the needs of countless thousands New Jerseyans is over,” said Murphy.

“Today is a good day in New Jersey,” said Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards. “With the signing of this bill, Gov. Murphy restores not only state funding for life-saving care, including cancer screenings, STI testing and more, but he also reinstates the right of folks in New Jersey, no matter who they are, to go to the health care provider of their choice. And for thousands of folks in New Jersey that’s Planned Parenthood,” said Richards.

On stage were some of the female elected officials who pushed the issue for years. Their acknowledged leader was Sen. Loretta Weinberg.

“When we were backstage, Gov. Murphy came in and he said, ‘are you ready to roll?’ I said, ‘I’ve been ready to roll for eight years,” said Weinberg.

“It’s outrageous. Women have been getting their health care,” said New Jersey Right to Life Executive Director Marie Tasy.

Tasy said not one woman ever testified to the Legislature that she had lost her health care. New Jersey has a hundred federally qualified health centers, she says, and Planned Parenthood is a well-funded abortion business that doesn’t need New Jersey taxpayer dollars.

“Right now, Planned Parenthood is currently under investigation by the FBI for the illegal sale of baby body parts and we have to assume that Gov. Murphy is aware of this,” said Tasy.

“As you probably know, there were congressional investigations that were politically motivated. We’ve been acquitted of everything, so that’s simply not true,” said Richards.

Tasy called Wednesday’s bill signing political payback from Murphy to his supporters in the “pro-abortion” movement. Murphy, campaigned on restoring this funding, and Wednesday called it a promise kept.

In the room, it was a popular move.

“Now that we finally have a partner in the Governor’s Office, we are able to rectify the wrong that has been done to our vulnerable women and children throughout the state of New Jersey,” said Democratic Assemblywoman Joann Downey.

As Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman reminded the room, elections have consequences.

“Thank you, God, that we had an election in November and a new governor in January,” she said.

They call the issue women’s health, but this fight is really about abortion. Christie was the first pro-life governor New Jersey has had in at least 45 years. With Murphy, the pro-abortion rights forces are back in charge.