You’d think Planned Parenthood and their supporters in the New Jersey state legislature would have figured it out by now. The state’s governor, Chris Christie, is not going send the money of New Jersey taxpayers to groups like theirs.
Once again, this past June, the Democrat-controlled state legislature passed a budget containing $7.5 million in state funds for “family planning” clinics in the state, such as Planned Parenthood. Once again, as he did last year, Christie vetoed that item along with several other non-family planning outlays in the $30+ billion budget, cutting $1.3 billion altogether, citing the need for what he called “adult supervision” in times of “fiscal trouble” (Times, of Trenton, 6/30/11, NY Times, 6/30/11)
Democrats in the state senate scrambled to try and corral the needed Republican votes to restore funds cut from the budget, but in 15 votes failed to get the required two-thirds majority. They lost the vote to restore funding for family planning by a margin or 25-14, with just one Republican, Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) siding with the Democrats (Statehouse Bureau, 7/12/11).
It was largely a repeat of last year’s budget battle over the family planning funds. Christie cut the same amount, $7.5 million, in 2010, cuts opponents labeled “insensitive” and “economically foolish.”Christie, who took office with the state facing a huge projected deficit, simply pointed out then that “I don’t believe that is a priority in a budget where you have to cut $11 billion” (Gloucester County Times, 6/25/2010).
Democrats in the legislature voted to restore funding that summer, but, then as now, were unsuccessful. Christie vetoed the measure, coolly noting that women could get the same services from other clinics and federally qualified health centers around the state (Today’s Sunbeam, 6/28/10, Gloucester County Times, 7/24/10, Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/28/10). Democrats were unable to get the votes needed to override the governor’s veto.
In the year since the last budget fight, New Jersey’s Planned Parenthood affiliates have not been happy. Shortly after the 2010 cuts became final, Planned Parenthood of Southern New Jersey (PPSNJ) announced the closing its Cherry Hill, NJ clinic.
Billing practices at Planned Parenthood from 2007 and 2008 came under fire in August of 2010 after a U.S. Inspector General found that some clinics were coding all claims as “family planning” services when they were not really family planning (AP, 8/20/10). While the federal government reimburses states dollar for dollar on most medical costs, reimbursement rates for family planning are much higher, with nine dollars returned for every dollar spent by the state.
In February of this year, a video tape came out showing a Planned Parenthood employee advising a woman and man posing as a prostitute and pimp for under-age foreign girls how to get services for the girls and avoid investigation by authorities. That employee was fired, but Planned Parenthood was left with larger questions about its training and policies. (New York Times, 2/3/11, AP, 2/2/11).
State inspections in February and March of this year found 39 “deficiencies” at Planned Parenthood’s Mercer Area clinic in Trenton (Times of Trenton, 5/28/11). This involved issues such as unlabeled syringes, failure to sterilize ultrasound equipment, and other procedural policies.
None of this helped Planned Parenthood make the case that it was an effective, professional provider of essential medical services.
Of this present budget fight, Christie said on June 30, 2011, that “We are not going back to business as usual.” Though speaking in the wider context, Christie’s words when announcing the cuts clearly articulated the principle shared by many citizens when it comes to state funding of enterprises like Planned Parenthood directly connected to the abortion industry:
“The actions I have taken today reinforce a commitment to protecting taxpayer dollars” (National Catholic Register, 7/5/11).