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Results tagged “Sexual assault” from Blog for Choice

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness month, and we'd like to pay tribute to survivors of sexual assault by recognizing progress that's being made in the movement to make sexual assault a thing of the past.

Sexual assault is still a serious problem that must be addressed. While we still have a long way to go in terms of developing substantive solutions to preventing these crimes and tackling the negative stigma associated with sexual assault, elected officials across the country are taking steps forward to provide appropriate protections and care for survivors.

Here are four ways elected officials across the country are working to bring justice to sexual assault survivors:

1. In California, Asm. Mike Gatto is collaborating with a sexual assault survivor to make sure colleges and universities report sexual assault to police.

Asm. Mike Gatto.jpg
Sponsor: California Asm. Mike Gatto

Asm. Mike Gatto was horrified to learn that colleges were sweeping sexual assaults under the rug, so he contacted a student who, with several of her peers, had filed a federal complaint against UC Berkeley for not taking their assaults seriously. He's written legislation to require campus officials to report all sexual violence to the police unless survivors don't want their assault to be reported or wish to remain anonymous. This bill passed unanimously through Assembly Public Safety Committee and will head to Assembly floor for a vote.

2. California is moving a bill to make sure police process rape kits more quickly.


Sponsor: California Asm. Nancy Skinner

Right now in California, there's no law that puts a deadline on how quickly rape kits must be processed. No wonder only 21-percent of sexual assaults resulted in arrest in 2012. If this bill passes, it could help bring justice for countless survivors of sexual assault.

3. In Tennessee, the state House and Senate unanimously passed legislation that eliminates the current three-year statute of limitations for survivors of rape.

Norris and Towns.jpg
Sponsors: Tennessee Sen. Mark Norris and Rep. Joe Towns

This new legislation would help survivors of rape to bring their attackers to justice regardless of how much time has passed after the vicious attack. Some victims of rape may need time to cope with their assaults and now will no longer be burdened by the three-year statute. With the statute removed, victims can work with the state to prosecute when they are ready to come forward.

4. Maryland is moving legislation to bring justice to rape survivors.


Sponsor: Del. Ariana Kelly

Right now, only one hospital in every Maryland county provides the type of exam that can be used to prosecute the attacker. If a rape survivors show up at the wrong emergency room, the survivors could be told to drive to another hospital! This common sense bill requires that every hospital establish procedures to treat survivors of sexual assault and was passed unanimously by both Maryland houses.

We still have a long way to go, but every step and every piece of legislation to curb sexual assault and give justice to survivors is a step to making the world a safer place for us all.

Thank you for joining us in recognizing National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

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Peace Corps Volunteers: On Their Own?


distressed_small.jpgEvery year, thousands of Americans volunteer for the Peace Corps.

These volunteers represent our country by doing important work around the world, risking their health and safety to provide essential aid abroad. Sadly, these heroic volunteers don't even have the same health-care coverage as government employees have here at home. Right now, if a woman serving in the Peace Corps is raped and needs abortion care, she's on her own.

While women in the military have access to this essential service, abortion coverage is completely banned for women volunteers serving in the Peace Corps who become pregnant from rape or if they face life-threatening complications during pregnancy.

One Peace Corps volunteer, Mary Kate Shannon, had to confront this injustice after surviving her second sexual assault while serving abroad. The Peace Corps couldn't provide funding for abortion care, but they did offer to provide federally-funded parenting classes:

"I felt betrayed...I felt like it was a decision that was going to be made for me. I wasn't in a place financially where I felt like I could pay for it."

Nobody should be forced to go through what Mary Kate experienced. So we're getting the word out and working to secure essential reproductive freedoms for these women. Peace Corps volunteers deserve the same respect, support, and health coverage as other citizens serving our nation abroad.

Help fix this injustice by telling your senators to cosponsor the Peace Corps Equity Act and support equal treatment for our volunteers overseas.

The Peace Corps Equity Act would ensure that Peace Corps volunteers have the unconditional abortion coverage and support they deserve in the most difficult of circumstances.

Help us send a message to Congress that protecting Peace Corps volunteers' health is the right thing to do - anything less is unacceptable.

Winning insurance coverage for abortion in these tragic circumstances is just the first step. We won't stop fighting until insurance plans cover abortion just like any other medical services - for all women.

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Georgia Senator: Military Rape is Just Part of "Nature"


Saxby_Chambliss.jpgIn today's Senate Armed Services committee hearing, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) defended rape and sexual assault that occurs in the military, saying:

"The young folks coming in to each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22 or 23. Gee-whiz, the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur. So, we've got to be very careful on our side."

Well, gee-whiz. So Sen. Chambliss is arguing that 26,000 sexual assaults in the military in 2012 is just a case of "boys will be boys."

What could be more offensive, to men and women alike, than claiming that rape and sexual assault are somehow natural?

It's this type of thinking that truly endangers our service members and blocks any semblance of true reform to end sexual assault in the military.

It makes a dismissive generalization about the experiences of survivors of sexual assault in and outside the military.

Reports have shown the reality of sexual assault in the military and the numbers truly speak for themselves.

Sen. Chambliss now joins Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin, and Wisconsin state Rep. Roger "some girls just rape easy" Rivard (R), in sharing some of the most egregious and dangerous positions about rape and sexual assault survivors. But then again, we shouldn't be shocked.

Boys will be boys, right?

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Honoring Our Veterans and Survivors of Sexual Assault


As we honor service members on Memorial Day, we especially recognize those who have endured sexual assault. It's time to end this grave injustice against women and men in the military who dedicate their lives to protecting our right to freedom and privacy.

The numbers are astonishing:

Please help us raise awareness about the sexual assault crisis in the military by sharing our graphic with your friends on Facebook:


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Where is the Outrage Over Sexual Assault in the Military?


Military woman salute_small.jpgUnbelievable.

In one week, three military officers in charge of preventing and addressing sexual assault were arrested on various sexual assault charges, including sexual harassment, stalking, and forced prostitution.

This highlights a startling trend: a recent Pentagon report estimates that 26,000 cases of sexual assault occurred in the military in 2012. These revelations have finally brought national attention to the widespread problem of sexual assault in the military.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called for an immediate re-evaluation of all sexual assault prevention officers and recruits. And President Obama has publicly condemned the epidemic levels of military sexual assault cases:

"Not only is it a crime, not only is it shameful and disgraceful, but it also is going to make and has made the military less effective than it can be. And as such, it is dangerous to our national security."

The national outrage is loud and clear. This story has the attention of our nation's leaders. So we have to ask: What do some of the most outspoken anti-choice politicians have to say?

Top anti-choice politicians Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) have yet to come out and denounce the horrible acts happening to women in the military. Their official government websites and social media pages don't have as much as a statement about how these assaults cripple our country and endanger Americans both in and outside the military.

The silence really says it all. Anti-choice politicians who refuse to take a stand for survivors of sexual assault contribute to the same victim-blaming and shameful silence that keeps women from reporting their sexual assaults in the first place.

This is not a problem to be buried and forgotten. No matter how much anti-choice politicians would prefer to look the other way.

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Justice for Survivors of Sexual Assault in the Military


Servicewoman_small.jpgDays after news broke that the Air Force officer overseeing the service's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program was arrested on charges of sexual assault, a Pentagon report was released showing that there were an estimated 26,000 cases of sexual assault in the military in fiscal year 2012 - a six percent increase over 2011.

It's reprehensible that this officer could have perpetuated the very same act that he's supposed to be working to end.

How we treat our service members reflects on us as a society. That's why we're working hard to make sure that our service members have the same rights as citizens here at home.

We celebrated a victory last year when Congress enacted the Shaheen amendment, which lifted the ban on sexual-assault survivors using their health insurance to pay for abortion services.

We've also been working with amazing pro-choice champions in Congress like Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who introduced the Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health for Military Women (MARCH) Act which would repeal the ban on women in the military using their own money for abortion care overseas.

It's unacceptable that military women who sacrifice so much for our country are blocked from making the most personal of reproductive-health decisions.

We're optimistic that more political leaders will make ending sexual assault and ensuring service women's reproductive rights a priority. Because even one sexual assault is too many.

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Stand By Rape Survivors in the Military


military-woman.jpgOn November 6, voters went to the polls and decidedly shut down some of the most extreme and anti-choice candidates who were outspoken in their opposition to abortion care for survivors of rape or incest.

From Rep. Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin to Richard Mourdock to John Koster, candidate after candidate who showed zero compassion for rape survivors was shown the door. Clearly, these extreme anti-choice positions are completely out of touch with American values.

While we won these important victories at the polls, we're working to achieve one more win to show that Americans don't dismiss sexual-assault survivors - we stand up for them.

Current law denies women in the military who become pregnant as a result of rape from using their military health-insurance plan to cover abortion care.

The U.S. Senate is pressing to right this wrong and is poised to adopt the Shaheen amendment that would reverse the ban. However, Speaker John Boehner and other anti-choice leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives have blocked efforts to allow military women who are survivors of rape or incest to use their health-insurance plans to cover abortion services.

It's up to Boehner and the anti-choice majority in the House to stop putting politics before the health needs of servicewomen.

Stand with us and protect the rights and needs of our military women. Tell your lawmakers to support the Shaheen amendment and make sure that our servicewomen have access to the health services they need.

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Did you know that servicewomen who are survivors of rape or incest cannot get coverage for abortion care under their military health-insurance plans?

As awful as this sounds, it's true.

But in hopeful news, last week the Senate took a big step toward changing this unconscionable policy. The Senate Armed Services Committee adopted an amendment authored by pro-choice Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) that would provide abortion coverage for military women who are pregnant as a result of sexual assault.

Retired military officials have joined a group called Stand Up for Servicewomen to fight this discriminatory policy. One retired army captain who belongs to this group called the Shaheen amendment an important step forward for women serving their country.

"Servicewomen promise to support and defend the Constitution and our country," said Cindy McNally, Chief Master Sergeant, US Air Force (Ret.). "It's unconscionable to turn our backs on them in their time of need. We owe it to them--and to ourselves--to get this one right."

A huge shout-out goes to Sen. Shaheen and our other consistent champions of choice on the committee:

Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii)
Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska)
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.)
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.)
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.)
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.)
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.)
Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.)

Thanks to these senators for fighting for the women who fight for us.

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A politician in Indiana suggested that women might lie about being the survivor of rape or incest in order to access abortion care.

I wish I could say this was someone's idea of a sick April Fools' joke. Sadly, it's true. 

Indiana state Rep. Eric Turner argued on the floor of the state House that a rape or incest exception to a proposed abortion ban creates "a giant loophole." 

Why? According to Rep. Turner, because "someone who is desirous of an abortion could simply say that they've been raped or there's incest."

Fortunately, state Rep. Linda Lawson was there to set the record straight on Rep. Turner's callous and outrageous suggestions:

Unfortunately, these extreme attacks on women's freedom and privacy are not confined to the Hoosier State.

Yesterday, the Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would manipulate the tax code to advance an extreme anti-choice agenda. 

Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, the committee's ranking member, said that taking action on an anti-choice attack was unprecedented for the Ways and Means Committee:

I cannot recall a time in my two decades on this Committee - and I have checked with a few others that served this Committee before me -- that we have devoted a full hearing and markup to [abortion]. I regret that it takes away our attention from our shared goals of job-creation and tax reform.  And I regret that this bill is overall just a tax increase on women.

Donna Crane, policy director at NARAL Pro-Choice America, told the Associated Press that the "rape-audits" provision "would be an alarming new responsibility for the IRS."

This War on Women has gone far enough! 

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Banding Together to Stop the Rape Audits


With the anti-choice leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives taking its War on Women to dangerous new extremes, the whole pro-choice movement is banding together

Under H.R.3, the extreme "Stupak on Steroids" bill, women could be forced to describe the traumatic experience of being sexually assaulted to an agent from the IRS. According to Mother Jones, the bill could "turn IRS agents into abortion cops."

And H.R.3 is not just fringe legislation that doesn't stand a chance of passing.  It takes 218 votes to pass anything in the House. Right now, H.R.3 has 221 co-sponsors. If a vote were held today, this bill would pass the House!

Americans have had enough of the War on Women and are calling on Speaker John Boehner and other anti-choice politicians to end these outrageous attacks on freedom and privacy.

Now through April 15, our progressive coalition is gathering signatures to send to Speaker Boehner by Tax Day. The message: Stop the rape audits.

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The "Stupak on Steroids" bill just got one step closer to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives. Today, the Judiciary Committee constitution subcommittee announced it will hold a hearing on the bill next Tuesday, February 8. This expedited hearing is further evidence that the "Stupak on Steroids" bill is a top priority for Speaker John Boehner and the anti-choice House leadership.

While the "Stupak on Steroids" bill is on the fast track, Boehner refuses to answer reporters' questions about how one of the bill's many egregious provisions would redefine rape

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, called out the House leadership's hypocrisy:

This hearing reinforces just how out of touch John Boehner and other anti-choice politicians are with our country's values and priorities. This hearing will also bring more attention to Boehner's refusal to answer questions about how this mean-spirited bill creates even more obstacles to medical care for rape and incest survivors.

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Anti-Choice Politicians Seek to Redefine Rape


Note: This post discusses rape and sexual assault. 

Earlier this month, anti-choice leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced H.R. 3, the extreme "Stupak on Steroids" bill. The "Stupak on Steroids" bill is a kitchen-sink attack on women's ability to make personal, private medical decisions, but one of its many dangerous provisions is particularly cruel: it seeks to redefine rape.

Several federal laws, most notably the Hyde amendment, bar access to abortion care for low-income women who rely on the federal government for their health care, with exceptions only to preserve the woman's life or if the pregnancy results from rape or incest.

Mother Jones reports that the "Stupak on Steroids" bill would limit the rape exception only to cases of "forcible rape," a definition that does not currently exist in federal law. Survivors of date rape, rape involving drugs or alcohol, or statutory rape would not be eligible for abortion coverage under "Stupak on Steroids":
If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion.

The Daily Beast talked with Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, about the attack, noting that the chilling effect of "the bill will send a message to all women that certain kinds of sexual assault don't count as rape at all." 

The "Stupak on Steroids" bill is one of the farthest-reaching assaults on women's freedom and privacy that we've seen. As Donna Crane, our policy director, said, the way it would treat survivors of sexual assault is "unbelievably cruel and heartless."

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