After federal rule change, N.J. lawmakers want to hike funding for Planned Parenthood

Abortion protesters attempt to hand out literature as they stand in the driveway of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Indianapolis on Aug. 16.

Abortion protesters attempt to hand out literature as they stand in the driveway of a Planned Parenthood clinic. (Michael Conroy/AP)

New Jersey lawmakers want to provide state money to Planned Parenthood and other health care providers who have abandoned some of their federal funding.

The organizations gave up the federal money after the Trump administration imposed a new rule on recipients of Title X funding that blocked them from referring women to abortion providers. Health care organizations including Planned Parenthood said they would rather forego federal funding than withhold medical information from their patients.

“We’re currently operating on some limited emergency funds,” Casey Olesko, communications director for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey. “Support from the state Legislature and [Governor Phil] Murphy will help to make sure our doors stay open.”

Two bills introduced in the state Senate and Assembly would appropriate $9.5 million to New Jersey-based organizations that dropped out of the federal Title X program.

“This has to happen quickly, because we cannot let this funding gap go along,” said state Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, at a press conference last week.

Sweeney acknowledged that it would take a significant amount of state funding to fill the gap left by the foregone Title X money. “I don’t take that lightly, but people’s health care is more important than political points that are being made,” he added.

A federal lawsuit over the rule change is ongoing.

According to lawmakers, there are 45 publicly-supported contraceptive service providers across New Jersey who saw 110,000 patients last year, the majority of whom went to Planned Parenthood.

“Right now, we want to make sure that our patients know our doors are open,” Olesko said. But she also cautioned that Planned Parenthoods in other states may not receive alternative sources of funding like New Jersey could. “As it stands right now, the future is uncertain.”

Gov. Murphy has already signed a law directing funding to women’s health clinics, legislation that Democrats in the legislature passed several times when Chris Christie was governor, only to see Christie veto it.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal