Caldier introduces bill to fine hospitals for failing to provide timely support to rape survivors

Rep. Michelle Caldier, R-Port Orchard, has introduced a bill to ensure rape survivors receive timely notice of the availability of rape kit exams at hospitals in Washington state.

Under House Bill 2585, hospitals that do not provide rape kit exams, or do not have a provider available, would be required to notify a survivor within two hours of their arrival to the hospital. Failure to do so would result in a civil penalty of $2,000.

In a committee hearing on the bill Friday, a woman named Hailee provided testimony about her recent experience seeking help at a local hospital the day after she was raped. She said she sat at the hospital for for six hours and forty-two minutes before being told rape kit exams were not performed there, and that she would have to go to a different hospital for assistance.

“Imagine going through the worst experience of your life, only to spend nearly seven hours the next day waiting for care at the only place you could get it,” said Caldier. “It is disgraceful the way Hailee was treated by hospital staff, and it can never be allowed to happen again to another woman. Some say the $2,000 civil penalty in this bill should be higher. They may be right. But it is my hope the penalty will provide enough incentive for hospitals to better care for and support rape survivors going forward.”

In addition to providing timely notice of the availability of rape kit exams, Caldier's bill would require hospitals to give survivors a list of the nearest health care facilities and practitioners that provide such exams. The list would be updated quarterly.

If signed into law, the provisions in House Bill 2585 would go into effect in July 2019.

The bill is currently in the House Health Care and Wellness Committee.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov