TRENTON, New Jersey, May 23, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – New Jersey’s famously tough-talking pro-life governor Chris Christie took on a pro-abortion state senator who called in to the governor’s radio hour to confront him over the issue of funding for Planned Parenthood, which Christie has cut.
The exchange between Christie and New Jersey Senator Loretta Weinberg took place during the NJ101.5 program “Ask the Governor,” hosted by Eric Scott, and was picked up by MyCentralJersey.com. Weinberg called in and was introduced as “Loretta in Teaneck.”
“I wanted to let you know personally, if you haven’t found out yet, that I just dropped in the bill to reinstitute $7.5 million of family planning money that was zeroed out of the budget, and that you vetoed when we passed it,” said Weinberg. The lawmaker pointed out that the state has seen an increase in unanticipated revenue, adding, “I would hope that this time around that you’ll think about women’s access to health care.”
S-2899, Weinberg’s bill to restore $7.45 million in family planning funds, much of which would go to Planned Parenthood, passed the Senate on Monday. The vote was 26 to 13, one vote shy of the two-thirds majority needed to overcome a Christie veto. The governor has already vetoed two of Weinberg’s previous attempts to restore the funding, as well as another proposal that would have expanded Medicaid to restore the funding.
Christie thanked Weinberg and responded that, regarding the bill, he would “make the decision that I think is in the best interest of the state.” However, the governor had sterner words for the suggestion that the funding was critical for women’s health.
“I don’t think it’s been in the best interest of the state for Senator Weinberg to be around mischaracterizing women’s access to health care,” said Christie. “Women still have extensive access to health care all across the state of New Jersey through other clinics that are still open, and federally qualified health clinics which the state funds in the tens of millions of dollars every year.
“This has become a political issue for Senator Weinberg; and I understand she likes to throw around the political issues as well as anybody but, in the end, I’ll consider this along with the rest of the budget, and I’ll decide what I believe is the most responsible way to spend money.”
Host Eric Scott pressed Christie on whether his stance on family planning funds wasn’t primarily motivated by his pro-life beliefs. “Even with your Treasurer talking about an extra $500 million, her bill would cost, what, $7.5 million? I mean, Governor, is it really about money, or is this about ideology?” he asked.
Christie insisted, however, that “my decisions on this have always been based on not only whether we have enough money, but whether the money we’re spending is duplicative.” Also, he said, the extra funds enjoyed by the state this year are no excuse to spend more on pet projects.
“If we don’t have the same kind of windfall next year, are [Democrats] going to volunteer to have that money cut back again? Of course not. They are going to be on programs like this and others complaining that the Governor has heartlessly cut this money back out again,” he said.
A spokesperson for Gov. Christie’s office was not available Monday.
Gov. Christie, who had cut family planning funding from the FY2011 budget, vetoed efforts to restore it last July, and again in February of this year. Although Christie is openly pro-life – he told right-to-life advocates on the Statehouse steps in January that “I stand with you” – he has always maintained that the cuts were for fiscal reasons.
At a New Jersey Right to Life rally in Trenton Monday, Sen. Michael Doherty condemned attempts to restore public funding for Planned Parenthood, the country’s leading abortion provider that undercover investigations have implicated in a widespread cover-up of statutory rape and illegal sex trafficking.
“Nobody has any problem trying to have no affiliation with nefarious organizations such as the Nazis or apartheid regimes,” said Doherty, according to the New Jersey Star-Ledger. “But somehow, we’re asked to use our tax dollars to support these type of organizations.”