House Republican bills to improve care for sexual assault victims pass state House

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CONTACT: Nick Jacob, Public Information Officer for Rep. Michelle Caldier | 360-786-5097
Kylee Zabel, Public Information Officer for Rep. Gina McCabe | 360-786-7031

House Republican bills to improve care for sexual assault victims pass state House

Today, the state House of Representatives passed two Republican bills aimed at improving care for sexual assault survivors.

House Bill 2101, sponsored by Rep. Gina McCabe, would direct the Office of Crime Victim Advocacy (OCVA) to develop best practices for local communities seeking better access to sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE).

McCabe, co-chair of the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination, or “SAFE,” Task Force, says the bill is a necessary step in providing victim-centered care.

“On the SAFE Task Force, we're continuing to work on ways to close gaps in access to quality care for rape victims,” said McCabeR-Goldendale. “It's clear more tools and resources need to be at the disposal of local communities so they can provide the best care to survivors. In rural communities like the ones I represent, victims don't typically have access to SANEs, who play a critical role in the detailed forensic investigation that are necessary for prosecution. Every victim should be able to receive care at a local hospital with access to a qualified SANE.”

Under the bill, the OCVA would also be required to develop strategies to make SANE training available to nurses in all regions of the state without requiring the nurses to travel unreasonable distances or incur unreasonable expenses. Currently, the only SANE training available in Washington is at Harborview Medical Center.

Another bill sponsored by Rep. Michelle Caldier would help ensure rape survivors receive timely notice of the availability of rape kit exams at hospitals in Washington state.

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

During public testimony on the bill, a woman named Hailee shared her recent experience seeking help at Harrison Medical Center the day after she was raped. She said she sat at the hospital 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.

“I was appalled when I heard Hailee's story because the hospital should have been a safe haven for her,” said Caldier. “She should have received immediate care, but instead had to sit there for nearly seven hours before being told she'd have to go somewhere else. This cannot continue to happen in Washington state. My hope is this legislation will compel hospitals to provide better and more expeditious care to those who have been horrifically victimized.”

In addition to providing timely notice of the availability of rape kit exams, Caldier's bill would require hospitals to coordinate with local community sexual assault centers to ensure survivors receive the care they need.

The bills now advance to the Senate for further consideration.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov