I should not be billed for my rape kit

I think it’s particularly frustrating that the issue of billing rape victims for their rape kits is even a subject up for debate. It seems like common sense that a victim of a violent crime should not have to pay for the authorities to collect physical evidence in the aftermath of their attack. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is just the latest official to not see this as common sense.

Both houses of the New Jersey state legislature have passed the bipartisan bill but Republican Governor Chris Christie has been stalling since June . His office is still claiming they are “reviewing” the legislation before Governor Christie signs it.

The bill’s sponsor Assemblywoman Annette Quijano told Feministing, “Sexual assault victims have already suffered enough. I see no reason why we should add to that suffering by essentially forcing them to pay for the investigation into their own assault,” Quijano said. “We must remember that these women are the victims, not the criminals.”

She is right on. This should be an easy call for Governor Christie and I’m not sure what the hold up is. What has his office been doing these past few months? The legislation sounds very standard, it is not controversial, and more importantly it is fair to rape survivors who do not need a hospital bill coming in the mail when they are trying to recover and move on with their lives.

Via Think Progress:

Under the proposal, victims could not be billed for services directly associated with forensic sexual assault examinations. This would include routine medical screening, medications to prevent sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy tests and emergency contraception, as well as supplies, equipment and use of space.

“In no other crime would it even be contemplated that victims receive an invoice for the collection of evidence needed to prosecute the offenders,” said Sen. Diane Allen, R-Burlington, who sponsored the measure in that chamber along with Sen. James Beach, D-Voorhees.

“Victims who receive a bill are needlessly forced to relive their attack all over again by the very people to whom they turned for help. This legislation will prevent this inhumane practice in New Jersey,” Allen said.

I really want to ask Governor Christie (who happens to be my Governor) what the hold up is. If he has enough time to take helicopters to baseball games, he should have enough time to review and sign a piece of legislation this important to the lives of so many women and men.

Change.org has a petition demanding that he sign the legislation right away.

Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/cshap18/ Conor

    This is outrageous! Truly and utterly despicable.

  • http://feministing.com/members/critter/ Critter

    Christie is such a scumbag. I can’t believe this is even an issue. Fuck the healthcare system in this country.

  • http://feministing.com/members/steveo/ Steven Olson

    This is absolutely disgusting! Not only does this force victims to relive their attack, it also, in principle, makes it so the poor can not receive justice. I can’t believe any state could ever have such a practice!

    • http://feministing.com/members/critter/ Critter

      Not just in principle…certainly this would prevent almost all low-income women from getting justice.

  • http://feministing.com/members/maryandthemoon/ mary

    i don’t remember where i read it but there was an article about how many police departments don’t EVER do anything with the information that is gathered in the rape kit. i wish remembered what state that was in, i’m sure texas was one of those.

  • http://feministing.com/members/monkachew/ Steve

    For folks in NJ — each county has a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) that includes confidential advocates, law enforcement, and forensic nurse examiners. Each county SART must partner with a hospital in its county to provide medical services to sexual assault survivors. If a survivor receives services related to her/his assault at a SART participating hospital, including medical care and the forensic exam, they cannot be charged.

    While this is good news, not every hospital in NJ is a SART participating hospital. Many hospitals can still charge survivors for medical treatment and forensic evidence collection. Until this bill becomes law, it’s important to know your county’s participating SART hospital. Check out the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s website for more information.