Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ): Budding Social Conservative
Susan K. Livio/Statehouse Bureau
“Between the cuts in funding access to birth control and applying for abstinence education, somehow we have people caught somewhere in the last century mentally…” Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen)
TRENTON — Two weeks ago, the federal government awarded Gov. Chris Christie’s administration nearly $4.7 million in federal funding for teenage pregnancy prevention programs. But one-fifth of the money comes with one unbreakable string attached.
Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ)
Nearly $1 million must be spent teaching kids to say no to premarital sex.
The decision to pursue abstinence funding didn’t get much attention as Christie carved himself a national reputation as a fiscal conservative. But it is the latest sign the governor is also beginning to pursue a socially conservative agenda, according to some advocacy groups from both the left and right, lawmakers and political scientists.
The biggest uproar came when Christie vetoed a bill that would have dedicated $7.5 million to continue funding 58 clinics that provide birth control, family planning counseling and cancer screenings. Since then, two clinics closed in Camden County, and two more will close in Burlington County next month, Planned Parenthood’s Jaker said.
Critics of abstinence education typically cite two studies, one by the Government Accountability Office in 2006, and another by Mathematica Policy Research in 2007 that found these programs had no effect on teenagers’ sexual activity. Weinberg said she was pleased the remaining $3.8 million New Jersey is getting in federal aid for teen pregnancy prevention could be used to convey messages about safe sex as well as abstinence.
Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) said the change in state health policy “is not pretty.”
“Between the cuts in funding access to birth control and applying for abstinence education, somehow we have people caught somewhere in the last century mentally,” she said.
Conservative groups praised the move.
“Governor Christie is our first pro-life governor,” said Marie Tasy, executive director of New Jersey Right to Life. “He is trying very hard to fix our state and restore our culture from the bad decisions and failed policies of previous administrations so that it will be a better place to raise our children and future generations.”