Federal bill being introduced to improve sexual assault healthcare
Thursday, July 12th 2018, 7:56 AM AKDT
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski has joined three members on a bi-cameral, bi-partisan bill designed to provide critical healthcare access to sexual assault survivors.
"We've long recognized that we have an alarming shortage of access when it comes to medical forensics exams," Murkowski said on a conference call Thursday morning.
The Survivors' Access to Supportive Care Act (SASCA) will fund state-level surveys to better understand victims' access to healthcare. It will develop and test a national standard of care for sexual assault survivors. It will also create a "pilot grant program to expand medical forensic exam training and services" to new providers and rural areas, a release from Murkowski's office said.
Murkowski cited Alaska’s unique situation with its far-flung communities whose residents require a flight to the nearest hospital equipped to admit sexual assault victims.
Alaska State Troopers have jurisdiction over violent crimes in rural Alaska. Covering vast areas with a lean staff means responding to sexual assault calls could take troopers from several hours to several days, Murkowski said.
The victim would not be allowed to shower, change clothes or get medical attention for non-life threatening injuries. The victim could be potentially sitting and sleeping in the clothes that they had been sexually assaulted in until the trooper could respond, Murkowski said.
"These are horror stories, but they are real-life stories," Murkowski said. "Our statistics are just way too high. Our challenges are very high, but that doesn't mean we just abandon these women, and oftentimes, children."
This comes after Gov. Bill Walker signed a bill into law that requires untested sexual assault kits be reported yearly. It also requires sexual assault reporting become victim-centered and police academies will have 12 hours of sexual assault training.
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