As the autumn months approach, I would like to take a moment to remind everyone that September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. One of the deadliest of all women’s cancers, nearly 21,880 women are afflicted with this disease annually, and 13,850 women in the United States will lose their lives to ovarian cancer in this year alone. Sometimes referred to as the “silent killer,” the symptoms of ovarian cancer are subtle and many women are unaware that they are afflicted with the disease until it has already spread. That’s why early detection and prevention measures are absolutely critical.
Governor Christie’s elimination of funding for Women’s Health and Family Planning Services in this year’s budget limits women’s access to these critical services and puts their lives at risk. For many women, family planning clinics are their only source for mammograms, gynecological care, and access to contraception. As a result of the Governor’s cuts, health centers throughout the state are laying off staff and closing their doors, shutting out women in need of these life-saving examinations and preventive care.
On Monday, September 20th, the Legislature will vote to override the Governor’s veto of Senate bill 2139, which will restore the funds for Women’s Health and Family Planning Services and allow them to provide the care that the women of New Jersey deserve. That’s why I’m asking you to help by calling your state legislator, writing a letter to the editor, or even just signing our petition [http://www.ppaction.org/campaign/WHM_PPANJ_overridetheveto_september2010]. We need to send a strong message to our Governor and to every opponent of this important piece of legislation that women will not stand for being treated like second-class citizens. We will not remain silent as access to healthcare is eliminated based on ideological grounds.
Ovarian cancer is one of many illnesses whose early detection is critical to combating the disease. We must not allow the Governor’s ideological opposition to funding family planning agencies jeopardize the lives of the women and families that need these services most. I look forward to casting a vote in favor of overriding this callous veto, and I hope that you will stand with me in defense of women throughout the state.
Barbara Buono is a state senator representing the 18th Legislative District.