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N.J. gov’s budget hits Planned Parenthood

TRENTON, N.J. (BP)–New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has found a way to reduce government funding of the country’s leading abortion provider.

In his first budget, the Republican proposed the elimination of all funds for the state’s family planning program. As a result, state money through the program will not go to Planned Parenthood, which operates family planning clinics.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s affiliates reported more than 305,000 abortions in 2007, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Its latest annual report showed its affiliates received about $350 million in grants and contracts from federal, state and local governments.

Family planning centers received about $7.5 million in the most recent New Jersey budget. Christie, whose proposed budget is for 2011, is dealing with a nearly $11 billion projected deficit, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

If approved, the cut would be “literally devastating to us,” Michele Jaker, executive director of the Family Planning Association of New Jersey, told The Inquirer.

“It makes absolutely no sense fiscally,” Jaker said. She added that the centers provide far more than abortion services, including contraceptives, HIV tests and cancer screenings, and help reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

Marie Tasy, executive director of New Jersey Right to Life, contested that assertion. She said family planning funding had grown from $4 million to $7.5 million since 2002 but New Jersey remained among the country’s leaders in the teenage abortion rate.

Planned Parenthood and the other agencies “have been part of the problem and not the solution,” she was quoted as saying. “This is long overdue. I think Gov. Christie should be commended to take this step to stop rewarding failure with our tax dollars.”

She told CitizenLink, a website of Focus on the Family Action, “Planned Parenthood dominates the network of family planning clinics in New Jersey. It is not the obligation of New Jersey taxpayers to advance the agenda of Planned Parenthood.”
Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.