Assembly Democrats Linda Stender, Pamela R. Lampitt, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Gabriela Mosquera issued the following statements on Thursday praising the Democratic Fiscal Year 2015 budget, which prioritizes women and families in New Jersey. The four lawmakers have sponsored legislation that would restore $7.5 million in funding for women's health care. The restoration of the funding in the budget, which the Assembly passed on Thursday, reflects the state's core belief that New Jersey cannot move forward if it leaves its women behind:
"Funding for women's health care is about trusting the women of New Jersey to make their own decisions. It's that simple. This plan gives women the liberty to make independent decisions about their health in the privacy of a doctor's office. That's the way it should be," said Stender (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). "As we continue to make strides toward equality for all, we need a budget that makes that kind of regard for women nonnegotiable. We have a responsibility to take a stand on this issue, and that's exactly what the budget we passed today does. This spending plan respects a woman's right to control her own well-being."
"The health of New Jersey's women is a reflection of the health of our state as a whole. The bottom line is that a budget is about priorities, and a state that invests in the health of its women is one that values their well-being and understands their worth," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington), chair of the Assembly Women and Children Committee. "By restoring $7.5 million in funding for women's health care, this budget makes clear our understanding that women's health is about more than women; it is about families. A woman who misses out on her mammogram or Pap smear one year may be the mother who misses out on dance recitals and soccer matches and birthdays the next. While funding for women's health affects women most directly, we would be remiss to ignore the larger implications for all of New Jersey."
"Access to health care is a human right. This budget respects every woman's right to affordable, comprehensive care that meets her individual needs," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Too often, the idea that wealth is a prerequisite for health dominates our discourse, leaving women - especially members of the middle class and working poor - without a way to care for themselves, and by consequence, without a way to care for their families. This budget reflects our collective belief that every resident has a right to wellness and the freedom to make his or her own decisions about that wellness. Just as was the case when we proudly stood against pay discrimination and violence against women in the past, including $7.5 million in funding for women's health in this budget is a reflection of our commitment to women's wellness."
"Whether we're talking about 'women's health' or 'reproductive health' or 'preconception health,' there's a single common denominator here: health," said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). "When women in New Jersey have the ability to stay well, they are better workers, better mothers and better overall contributors to our state. Unfortunately, we know that women are more likely than men to delay seeking the care they need due to its cost. The funding in this budget will go a long way toward providing our state's women with preventive care, which will allow them to address small health concerns before they become big ones and, ultimately, save our state money."
Since Gov. Chris Christie first eliminated this funding in the FY11 budget, Democratic legislators have continued to fight to restore $7.5 million to help provide roughly 130,000 women with access to routine gynecological exams; screening for high blood pressure, anemia and diabetes; breast and cervical cancer screening and education; screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections; contraception; HIV testing and counseling, preconception counseling and education; pregnancy testing and prenatal care.