N.J. family planning centers feel state cuts

Posted: September 23, 2010

A Cherry Hill family planning center has closed and two others in Burlington County are expected to shut their doors by the end of November because of state budget cuts, advocates said Wednesday.

Joyce Kurzweil, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood of Southern New Jersey, said the organization had closed its Kings Highway facility Monday, the day Democrats in the Legislature failed to restore $7.5 million in state funding to 58 family planning centers statewide.

Gov. Christie eliminated state funding to family planning health centers in his first budget, of $29.4 billion, saying the state did not have the money.

Kurzweil said the decision meant a $160,000 loss in her organization's budget of just over $3 million. Planned Parenthood of Southern New Jersey also has locations in Burlington, Camden, Atlantic City, and Bellmawr and at Stockton College. She said some locations would likely have to reduce their hours and possibly staff.

"It means a great loss to our clients," Kurzweil said.

According to her, a married, working mother with two children said this week that she relied on the agency to receive quality health care.

"They look to us, and they expect us to be here for them," Kurzweil said. "It's unfortunate that the governor has taken this tack of eliminating services that really save the state money."

Michele Jaker, executive director of the Family Planning Association of New Jersey, said the Burlington County Health Department was expected to close family planning centers in Browns Mills and Mount Holly by the end of November.

"We know there are going to be others closing. It's just a matter of negotiating leases, notifying employees, and all that goes with that," Jaker added.

Democratic lawmakers said Monday that they planned to keep fighting to restore funding to the centers, which last year provided more than 130,000 men and women with services including prenatal care, birth control, pap smears, and breast exams. State dollars are prohibited from being used for abortions.

Seven Republicans in the Senate initially voted to restore the funding but later voted against it, saying the state did not have the money.

Contact staff writer Adrienne Lu at 609-989-8990 or alu@phillynews.com.

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