When New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took office eight months ago, he hit the ground running. He wasted no time in slashing funds for education and various other public services that benefit the "little people", while at the same time giving huge tax breaks to New Jerseyans making more than $400,000 per year.
But that wasn't enough. Now he's going after women's bodies.
Christy vetoed a bill that would have provided $7.5 million for women's health clinics around the state. And, on September 20, the state senate failed to override the veto.
So is it about abortion? No. According to the Star-Ledger, "[t]he bill specifically says clinics, which provide birth control and health screenings, cannot use the money for abortions." With the abortion issue out of the picture, it's just about women's health -- low-income women's health.
As a result of Christie's veto, women's health clinics are having to tighten their belts at best. Planned Parenthood of Southern New Jersey announced that it would have to close a clinic in Cherry Hill. Other clinics may have to close as well, and services will be scaled back at those that remain open.
As clinics close, some low-income women will have to travel farther to get the gynecological and family planning services they need. And, depending on their locations and other circumstances, that could be difficult or impossible. According to the Star-Ledger, "supporters of the bill said 40,000 low-income women would have to go without services such as birth control and health screenings" because of the cut.
This could result in more unwanted pregnancies due to harder-to-obtain contraception. It could result in an increase in cervical cancer due to harder-to-obtain Pap smears. And it could result in an increase of sexually transmitted disease due to reduced availability of STD education and treatment. Is that really what Christy and his senatorial cohorts want? (Of course, they would probably just respond with a call for abstinence -- as Sarah Palin taught to Bristol. Enough said on that.)
To make matters even worse, Christie's veto also closes the door on some significant funding for the clinics from the federal level. According to a statement by Democratic Assemblywoman Patricia Lampitt, the state bill would have brought in $9 in federal funding for each $1 New Jersey spends on women's health care.
Michele Jaker, Executive Director of the Family Planning Association of New Jersey, had this to say about the problem: "The Senate Republicans stood with the extreme right wing of their party instead of standing with the women of New Jersey. Not only did this bill have its own funding source, but it [would have] allowed the state to leverage significant federal funding for these services."
Jaker followed up with a good question: "Do we really live in a state that walks away from tens of millions of federal dollars simply because it funds women's health care?"
Unfortunately, the answer appears to be "Yes".