TRENTON – Planned Parenthood endorsed U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez for re-election. The organization and several prominent Democratic lawmakers championed Menendez today as a consistent defender of women’s rights on key issues such as health care and pay equity, and criticized his opponent, state Sen. Joe Kyrillos, (R-13), Middletown, for being on the other side on those same issues.
In addition, key women legislators such as Speaker Sheila Oliver today sought to frame the Menendez/Kyrillos campaign, as well as the presidential election, as an ideological battle that will determine how health care and economic issues for women will play out over the next four years.
“There is a foul mood permeating this nation,’’ Oliver said, in which women’s rights are under assault in New Jersey and nationwide.
Oliver, Menendez and other lawmakers reiterated the theme that women are being forced to fight battles they thought had been won years ago.
“This pendulum swinging must come to an end,’’ said Menendez during a press conference on the Statehouse steps.
He pointed out that the next president probably will have the opportunity to appoint two or three Supreme Court justices, who then will make up a court that will have a great deal of power in deciding women’s issues.
Menendez warned that if Kyrillos is elected, he will work in Congress to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act, which among other things prevents insurers from canceling coverage for a woman merely because she is pregnant.
Kyrillos, according to Menendez, Oliver and others, voted six times in the last three years against funding health care for low-income women and families.
“Preventive health care is under siege,’’ Menendez said.
Oliver and Sen. Linda Greenstein, (D-14), Plainsboro, pointed out that the money under attack was not used for abortions, but instead went to basic, necessary services, including mammograms, infertility treatments, PAP smears and more.
And Oliver said that Gov. Chris Christie has made this an ideological issue from the beginning of his term. Christie, according to Oliver, cut over $7 million for family planning in his first budget, and even though he increased money for federally qualified health centers in his next budget such centers don’t have the capacity to care for the tens of thousands of lower income women who lack other options.
Clinics have closed as a result of these decisions, Oliver said.
And Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Michele Jaker said that 1.4 million women in New Jersey, and 47 million nationwide, will have access to no-cost birth control under the Affordable Care Act.
Referring to Kyrillos, Christie and like-minded Republicans, Jaker said, “These are the guys who think they know what is best for women’s health.”
Menendez said his opponent has “no regard for the reality of the times we live in today.”