Lawmakers in New Jersey voted overwhelmingly Monday to provide more than $9 million to organizations such as Planned Parenthood, which said they had to turn down federal money after President Donald Trump instituted a “gag rule” forbidding them from making abortion referrals.
The measure for $9.5 million in state funding passed the Assembly by 49-21, with one lawmaker abstaining. It will head to the state Senate for a vote in December, where advocates expect it to pass.
In August, Planned Parenthood’s two New Jersey chapters announced they would withdraw from the Title X program, a federal initiative that provides funding for birth control services and reproductive health care, in the wake of the Trump administration directive.
Family health centers in New Jersey received $8.9 million in Title X funding last year, with a majority of that going to Planned Parenthood. The organization provided care to 70% of the 110,000 patients in New Jersey who went to Title X-funded organizations for assistance in 2018.
“We cannot allow even one New Jerseyan to be denied care because of the Trump-Pence gag rule,” said Kaitlyn Wojtowicz, vice president for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey. In 13 of 21 New Jersey counties, Planned Parenthood is the sole provider of Title X services.
The state’s Planned Parenthood officials have relied on emergency funds and a fund-raising campaign to help keep their 22 clinics open, but the organization says it “cannot continue to do so indefinitely.”
Planned Parenthood’s three Pennsylvania chapters lost $1.3 million in funding after withdrawing from the Title X program. They are making up for it with donor funds. The Title X program was established in 1970 and provides $286 million in funding nationwide.
“This gag rule has become incredibly harmful,” said New Jersey Assemblyman Louis Greenwald (D., Camden), a primary sponsor of the bill. “It’s affecting family planning services and disproportionately affects low-income [individuals] and minorities because they can’t afford insurance that comes with this type of care.”
The bill passed Monday after some debate. Assemblyman Jay Webber (R., Morris) asked specifically whether any of $9.5 million would go toward funding abortions.
Greenwald said that it would not, and that the money would be routed through the Department of Health and provided to family planning centers across the state to provide reproductive health care and birth control services.
Earlier this year, New Jersey joined 19 other states in suing the Trump administration, calling the gag rule “burdensome and unnecessary.”
In New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s first bill signing in 2018, he approved $7.5 million in funding for family planning services, money which former Republican Gov. Chris Christie vetoed each year in office.