New Jersey’s top lawmaker wants to fast track a bill that would pump $8.8 million into the state’s Planned Parenthood and its affiliate groups to make up for the money they will lose by pulling out of the federal Title X funding program.
That money would have to come out of the state’s $1.2 billion surplus via an appropriations bill, according to Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, and could be approved by early September. Only $875 million is not restricted by the rainy day fund.
Gov. Phil Murphy and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19th District, would both have to support the bill.
Kevin McArdle, a spokesperson for Coughlin’s office, said in a statement that, “[t]he Speaker is certainly open to having that discussion with his caucus leadership and the Senate President.”
A spokesperson for the governor’s office did not specifically say whether he would approve the measure.
“The Murphy Administration stands firm and proud in our support of women’s health and family planning services in New Jersey in the face of the Trump Administration’s dangerous and unethical rule,” Alyana Alfaro, a spokesperson for the governor’s office, said in a statement.
“We are working with partners in government and with providers, including the New Jersey Family Planning League and both Planned Parenthood Affiliates that operate in New Jersey, to assess the need of the program and how the state might step in,” Alfaro added.
Sweeney told reporters that he anticipates the governor’s support – he did after all restore more than $7 million of state appropriations to Planned Parenthood that former Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, repeatedly nixed from the budget lawmakers sent him.
“This governor worked with the Legislature,” Sweeney told reporters at the Planned Parenthood office in Trenton. “I believe the governor, if we needed $15 million or $20 million, he would be supportive of this.”
On Monday, the state’s Planned Parenthood groups said they would pull out of the federal program, after the Trump administration unveiled a gag rule outlawing health care providers in the Title X program from telling patients about how or where to access abortion. The ruling was widely criticized by state and Congressional Democratic lawmakers, as well as women’s health advocates, who accused U.S. President Donald Trump of making the decision solely to appeal to his far-right Christian base of supporters.
Most Title X patients are women of color – such as African Americans and Latinos – who could be hit the hardest by the new Title X rule, according to Planned Parenthood advocates.