Gov. Phil Murphy has signed a measure into law that provides $9.5 million in additional state funds for family planning services.

“I cannot think of many better ways to start a New Year than by renewing our commitment to full access for women across the state to critical family planning and reproductive healthcare services,” Murphy said during a Thursday morning news conference in Trenton.

The funding is designed to help Planned Parenthood and other clinics cope with new federal restrictions that take effect in March that will prohibit them from referring patients for abortions.

Funds provided by the new law will be distributed by the state Department of Health to providers who lost funding because of the revised federal regulations under Title X.

Five months ago Planned Parenthood announced it would no longer participate in the federal program known as Title X because of the gag regulation. The Title X program currently provides about $9 million for women’s healthcare and reproductive services in New Jersey.

Before signing the legislation, Murphy said that ensuring proper funding for Planned Parenthood and women’s health matters.

“This isn’t a narrow political issue as some want to make it. It is quite literally a basic matter of health," he said.

 

 

 

He said by implementing Title X, the president made a conscious decision to block women from vital information critical to their health.

Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver said the issue at hand is about much more than providing information about abortion.

“Women have choices with their bodies, they have a right to have access to healthcare," she said. “We cannot have a group of men in Washington, D.C., make determinations about women having access to the care that they need.”

Murphy said he wished he did not have to sign a bill that allocates the additional state funds, and he expressed hope that at some point the federal government will come to its senses and “revoke the Title X gag rule and once again empower women to make fully informed decisions based on unfettered conversations with their healthcare providers.”

Marie Tasy, the executive director of New Jersey Right to Life, told The Associated Press that the bill was a "disgraceful" money grab to help a group that supports Democrats at election time.

"The taxpayers of New Jersey should not be forced to fund abortion — and make no mistake — that is what this bill will do," Tasy said.

Kaitlyn Wojtowicz, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey, thanked Murphy and lawmakers "for protecting access to care."

"With this bill signing, our providers will continue to provide the lifesaving reproductive health care services that patients need and deserve," she said.

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