Lawmakers Consider Ways to Combat Opioid Epidemic in 2018 Session
The start of the 2018 state Legislative session is only one month away. Lawmakers in the Eastern Panhandle met in Martinsburg for a Legislative Outlook Breakfast hosted by the Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce to discuss several issues they hope to tackle at the statehouse this year.
One focus is creating more ways to combat West Virginia’s opioid epidemic -- particularly how the crisis affects those in the state’s foster care system.
The state Department of Health and Human Resources reported in November that nearly 6,400 children are in some type of foster care – whether that’s in traditional foster homes or in other placements like emergency shelters. The West Virginia Children’s Home Society says at least 50 percent of kids in foster care are there due to drug related issues.
Senate Finance Chairman Craig Blair, a Republican from Berkeley County, suggested one way to tackle the problem would be to offer long term, reversible birth control to mothers who are addicted to drugs.
Blair said by providing easy access to things like IUDs, or intrauterine devices – would be more cost effective for the state than spending the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on special care for children born with drug related issues.
“You get this contraception out there," Blair said, "You will see a significant reduction in the amount of children being born [with drug related issues] and the money that we have to spend weaning them off whatever their mother was addicted to.”
Blair says he’s pro-life but states he’s pro-contraception as well. He argues this option would be another way to combat the opioid epidemic and help keep more children from being born with drug related ailments.
The 2018 state Legislative session will begin on January 10.