ET Show – Women’s Rights, paying for their own rape kits (update)

I haven’t discussed women’s rights that much on this blog and for this I am sorry. Women’s rights should be important to everyone. If anybody’s liberty is in jeopardy, all of our liberties are in jeopardy. Currently, women’s rights are under a blistering assault by the GOP. Legislation both on the state and on the federal level has been designed to target women and limit their access to healthcare and their right to choose. One of the most egregious assaults on women is rape. Several states are requiring women to pay for their rape examinations. Let me say this again. After a woman is raped, some states require women to pay for their rape kits. These examinations don’t cost $5 or $10. In some cases, women are being charged over $1000 (or more) for these examinations. For women who are poor and without means, this puts justice out of their reach. I talked with a friend of mine, Tamara Benson, who has intimate knowledge of this assault on women. Her own daughter was raped and because her daughter was a minor she was sent the bill for the rape kit. This is a very compelling interview and I hope you find it informative.

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Update: The HuffPo has also tackled this subject (listen to the personal story in the podcast below)-

Journalists occasionally shine light on a public policy that is so disgusting it literally stuns you – just takes your breath away and leaves you speechless.

Your first thought is they’ve made a mistake. Or this is ratings hype. It can’t be true.

After the initial shock wears off, you realize it actuallyis happening – that it’s the system – and it hurt real people today; and it will hurt others the same way tomorrow, and others the day after that, and others the day after that. And you just want to urp.

That happened today when I saw this clip on CNN (from Houston station KPRC) that showed the attorney general of Texas (my home state) is sending letters to women who have been raped threatening their credit will be ruined unless they pay for the part of the criminal investigation known as the rape kit.

(A rape kit is a set of items that specially trained medial staff use to gather and preserve evidence of a sexual assault. A woman can decline the process, which can take up to four hours, but going to an emergency room and undergoing this additional intrusion helps document the attack and gives law enforcement evidence it needs to investigate the crime and prosecute the rapist.) The cost, according to CNN/ KPRC, runs $1,200 to $1,800. (more…)

9 Responses

  1. Amazing that this goes on.  In AZ the right wing legislature and governor passed more anti-abortion laws this year in the guise of protecting women’s health.  I’m shocked by their position.  Fortunately we are seeing some court action – http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2011/07/06/20110706arizona-abortion-laws-on-hold.html

    The GOP hypocracy is that they do everything they can to stop abortions but after the baby is born do everything they can to stop or reduce benefits to help poor children. 

    And their stupidity is that by hindering Planned Parenthood they INCREASE unwanted pregnancy as PP helps with free birth control. 

    Its time for me to donate to PP again, even though the right wingers this year took away any tax benefits for working poor donations to that group.  In effect a tax hike they hate, but its ok when their ideology says so.  They make me sick.

  2. One of their goals is to have a population that is happy to have any job at any wage. Restricting women’s rights and their access to reproductive care is one of the ways they can accomplish their goals. 

    thanks for your thoughts. 

  3. The problem with victims paying for their own forensics is also exacerbated by the fact that the victim in this case was also a minor. I am a resident of the state of Texas and I’m appalled that they realized a crime, chose to perform the appropriate forensics then billed the parents of this child. Wake up Texas………We will not stand for this incredulous injustice of a female’s right to forensic collection- for the sake of justice! If she were robbed you would perform fingerprinting at the states expense. To apprehend criminals that would take another’s possessions appears to be more important than those that will do physical harm to a female. This country has gone to hell……Texas has been the lead car in the derailment of women’s rights and healthcare of it’s citizens in general!!!
     
    DR- in Big D

  4. We have to understand, as you well stated, that we must protect victims. Punishing victims by charging them to investigate their crime is a tragedy.

  5. Our issue has indeed been complicated by our daughter being a minor, however, sadly, this same treatment has been given to adult women in Texas, long after the Tx Attorney General claimed Texas did not charge rape victims for rape kits.   It continues to go on. 
     
    Please see this online video:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/05/09/texas-charging-rape-victi_n_201190.html

    That is almost our exact situation.   If it doesn’t make you cry, you have to ask yourself why. 

    And please google for Texas Rape Kit Scandal, and see the incredible number of complaints that have been lodged.

    I take back my comment that we should right to our US Congress, they will puff and fluff about it and not do or be able to do anything—this is an issue that requires writing to the Governor, the Attorney General, or the Texas legislature- the state folks. 

    It’s got to be done in each state to remedy this tragedy.  We as a people can get it done, but we need help.

    Tamara

  6. this sheriff simply hates America. He seems to circumvent procedure and the Constitution at will. Maybe I’m wrong. This guy is clearly something special. I mean this with as much sarcasm as I can muster.

    Thanks for your comments

  7. Thanks Jeff and Errington.   We used to live in Arizona.   It’s fair to say that that sheriff rallies racism and incites people to anger against Mexicans.    I had not known that he was connected to the Rape Kit backlog problem.   As they say in the West “it figures”.  

    What’s interesting in that Article, Jeff, is that there is no mention of the Federal funding these departments receive, and the Federal and State Laws that require the States to test the kits.   

    This issue isn’t simply about what is “right”, it is also about the States ignoring existing Laws and taking our American Tax Dollars and misusing those funds.  

    thanks guys,
    Tamara Benson

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.

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The Thirteeneth Juror

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