NJ Pro-Life Group Battles State Coverage of Family Planning Servies

A pro-life group is calling on the New Jersey governor to veto legislation passed Monday that would expand the number of Medicaid recipients eligible to receive coverage for family planning services.

New Jersey Right to Life Executive Director Marie Tasy blasted the legislative passage of the bill as political ploy that increases the number of women and teens receiving abortions. She asserted that the bill is meant appease the Planned Parenthood lobby which has at least 28 locations in the state.

"We've already put out an alert urging our members to contact Gov. Christie to veto this bill," she proclaimed.

The New Jersey state bill, which was passed in the state Senate by a 26-12 vote, will allow Medicaid customers making up to 200 times the poverty limit to receive family planning services through their state Medicaid coverage. The new limit is said to represent the average woman with a family of two earning a total of $30,000 a year. Previously, the special coverage was only applicable to individuals making up to 133 times the poverty limit.

The change is intended to stem the number of unwanted pregnancies by providing greater access to birth control, condoms and sex and STI prevention education.

Tasy lamented that the state has the highest rate of abortions nationwide and said the bill meant to lower the number unwanted pregnancies will lead to more because the clinics where patients will receive these services are connected to abortion provider Planned Parenthood.

"It makes no sense to claim that funding the nation's largest provider of abortions will result in a decrease in the abortion rate," asserted Tasy.

She explained that pregnant women that go to one of the Family Planning Association's clinics for services will be "coerced, counseled and referred" to an abortion clinic. And since New Jersey is one of the few states that offers Medicaid covering abortion, Tasy insisted, "New Jersey tax payers will be the ones paying that bill."

 Also lamentable is the bill's efforts to pay for the services expansion with federal tax dollars provided through President Barack Obama's health care reform bill. According to the bill's language, the state's Department of Human Services would be mandated to file for federal reimbursement, supplying a $9 reimbursement for every dollar spent in state family planning coverage.

Tasy and New Jersey Right to Life are pushing for the New Jersey governor to veto the bill.

Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, vetoed an earlier version of the Democrat-sponsored bill, which would allocate funds to which would allocate funds to the Family Planning Association that had not been part of the June budget agreement with the legislature.

Efforts to override the earlier veto failed. In retaliation, state lawmakers created this bill, now back before the governor. Democrats passed the measure in the state Senate with the help of two GOP members, Sens. Jennifer Beck of Monmouth and Diane Allen of Burlington.

Tasy is optimistic that the governor will veto the bill. "I don't think anything has changed since the Governor vetoed [the Democrats' August bill]," she stated.