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LETTER: Planned Parenthood “Stronger Than Ever”

As president and chief executive of the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood, I have worked hard to serve the women and families who rely on us for health care for more than seven years. Last week, we announced the upcoming merger between the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Virginia.

While the merger puts us in a better position to combat ideologically driven restrictions, the main purpose is to continue to strengthen and grow our organization to provide comprehensive services to the growing number of patients statewide who count on us for high quality, affordable health care. It will also allow us to bring new services to underserved communities, as well as expand and strengthen our education and advocacy programs.

Planned Parenthood health centers in Richmond and Virginia Beach have been in compliance with the medically unnecessary restrictions for two years, ensuring continued access to safe, legal abortion. While Style’s article suggests our Hampton office closed due to the restrictions, this is not true. Instead, staffing challenges caused the temporary closure, which have been resolved thanks to the efficiencies created through merging our affiliates. As an organization, we are stronger than ever. The communities in Central and Southeast Virginia are growing, and we are growing as an organization to meet the health needs of our communities from annual exams to flu shots to treatment of cervical precancerous conditions to chronic disease management.

In the coming year, primary care services, testing and treatment of precancerous cervical conditions, and sexuality education services will expand into new communities in our combined service area. In all, the newly merged affiliate will provide essential health care services to more than 20,000 women, men and young people across Central and Southeastern Virginia. These services include lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings, HIV tests, and birth control to help families plan and space their pregnancies, as well as high quality abortion services for a woman to consider as an option if and when she needs to.

This is an exciting moment for our organization, and we look forward to the opportunity to meet the needs of our patients, supporters, and staff. Regardless of what anti-women’s health legislators or advocates throw our way, we will continue to provide the compassionate, nonjudgmental care Planned Parenthood is known for, no matter what.

Paulette McElwain
President and Chief Executive
Virginia League for Planned Parenthood

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