Statement from Rep. Michelle Caldier on House Bill 1551 – Reducing punishment for intentional HIV infection

The state House of Representatives passed a controversial Democratic-sponsored measure Wednesday along party lines, 57-40, that would reduce the punishment for those who intentionally transmit or expose the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

House Bill 1551 would modify crimes related to intentional transmission of HIV from assault in the first degree (a felony crime) to a misdemeanor/gross misdemeanor.

Rep. Michelle Caldier, R-Port Orchard, was among Republicans who voted against the measure. She issued the following statement after the vote:

“One of our most basic and top priorities as state lawmakers should be public safety. Lowering the punishment for intentional transmission or exposure to HIV puts innocent people at risk and removes their ability for informed consent.

“This is also a slap in the face to the victims of sexual assault. What do you say to a 14-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy who were raped by men with HIV? We have two such cases in Kitsap County. It's difficult to get a rape conviction because witnesses are so traumatized and reluctant to take the stand. However, prosecutors have been able to use this law to charge these rapists and get a felony conviction. Under this bill, it becomes a misdemeanor — the same crime as stealing a candy bar. Those rape victims deserve justice — and this legislation will let rapists go free and open the gates to more victimization.

“This legislation would also allow a minor as young as 14 to consent to treatment without parents and legal guardians being notified. When it comes to something as serious as HIV, parents should not be excluded from their child's medical decisions.

“If someone intends to cause great bodily harm with a disease like HIV, they should be punished accordingly — not given a free ticket to spread this infection to whomever they choose.”

The measure now goes to the Senate for further consideration.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov