New Jersey Governor Chris Christie cut almost 8 million dollars from family planning clinics in a line item veto on the state’s budget earlier this year. Then the Democrats tried and failed to get it restore with a veto override. The back and forth lead to a fair amount of bad press for the Governor, who is already regularly accused of favoring the wealthy. Democrats have been pointing out his ant-woman attitude so he decided he needed a little PR spin.
On August 8th, he along with two female Republican members of the state congress visited Burlington City Health Center in an attempt to prove he indeed does care about the health of the women in NJ. He cares about the health and welfare of ALL New Jersey residents. That is why, according to him, he gave the money to clinics like Burlington City Health Center, they are general health care providers and thus can provide care to men and women. How thoughtful of him to be concerned with equal access to health care. There are just two glaring problems with that.
First, not all health care problems are the same. Ovarian cysts need a different type of treatment then pneumonia and will have different symptoms that need to be recognized. A general practice doctor is not going to be as well equipped to diagnose and treat specialized health care issues, meaning that these general health care centers are NOT providing equal care to men and women. They are providing general health care yes, and that is important; especially for low income families. General health care centers are incredibly important when it comes to overall health and they should be funded in the budget. Just not at the expense of centers that specialize in health care for women. As of now 6 of the clinics that previously received funding have had to close entirely. Many of the others have had to reduce hours and lay off staff in order to remain open. This means that though they are still seeing patients, they have to drastically reduce the number of patients they see. One clinic in Ocean County has said they will have to cut approximately 1100 patients. That means 1100 women have nowhere to go for their gynecological needs.
Second, the claim that giving money to the general health centers proves he cares about the health and well being of the states low-income residents is a complete falsehood. Gov. Christie may have indeed given the money he took from family planning centers and given it to general practice clinics, but he also cut $9 million from New Jersey FamilyCare program, $8 million in AIDS funding, and $9 million in mental health services. He also cut 75% of the budget for the Wynona Lipmann Child Advocacy Center (a group that provides services for physically and sexually abused children) which will likely cause them to close. After all that Gov. Christie expects residents to believe that he is ever so concerned with their health and well being just because he moved 7.4 million from women’s health clinics and gave it to a different type of care provider. Yep, that just screams “New Jersey- I love you!”