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.
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.