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Statement from Emily Womeldorff, Constituency Engagement Specialist for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic:

As a health care provider, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic supports public health policies, actions, and programs that treat the people of West Virginia with dignity and humanity. We proudly support the important and life-saving work of Solutions Oriented Addiction Response (SOAR) in Charleston, W.V. 

In a state with the country’s highest rate of opioid-involved overdose deaths, SOAR WV is the largest distributor of the life-saving overdose reversal antidote, naloxone, and has documented more than 600 community overdose reversals since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. SOAR WV’s all-volunteer teams use a harm reduction approach to address reproductive health and safety needs of the Charleston community, including by providing HIV testing, recovery, and coaching. Following CDC best practices, the organization runs a syringe service program that is the city’s best chance at holding off the worst spread of HIV as well as a deadly cascade of fatal overdoses. And at SOAR’s pop-up health fairs, they also distribute period products, safer sex products, and other basic hygiene necessities, in addition to offering recovery coaches, access to wound care, and HIV testing and referral to treatment. 

At Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, we are all too familiar with the dangers that occur when elected officials politicize public health programs. We urge community members to learn more and support this critical work.