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Results tagged “legislature” 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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Last week, I told you about two Arizona state legislators who could use a class on Manners 101.

State Reps. Terri Proud and Jack Harper wrote some nasty emails to pro-choice constituents who wrote in expressing their opposition to anti-choice bills moving forward in the Arizona legislature.

Now, NARAL Pro-Choice Arizona reports that Rep. Harper is at it again!

Jack W. Harper

Lana Schmitt-Kearney, a member of NARAL Pro-Choice Arizona, wrote to Rep. Harper about a bill that would allow bosses and corporations to deny their employees insurance coverage of birth control:

I am a married, 25-year-old, taxpaying citizen of Arizona who works for [a private, secular employer] after graduating from Arizona State in 2009. Please do not forget that as a state representative, you are supposed to represent ALL constituents, not just the ones who think the same way you might. I think it is despicable that H.B.2625 is even being considered- this bill invades the medical privacy of all women, undermines our capacity to make our own autonomous decisions, and thoroughly contradicts the notion that the GOP/right wing wants less government intervention into our lives.

If you must know, I use contraception for two reasons: to control the development of crippling, painful ovarian cysts that grow and burst every month when I ovulate, and also to postpone childbearing until my husband and I have both earned our master's degrees and are financially prepared for children.

Here's how Rep. Harper responded:

Your employer...has no religious objection to providing contraception. This bill doesn't affect you. If you worked for the Catholic Church, would you expect them to pay for an abortion for you? No, you wouldn't. Birth control pills are against the Catholics' religious beliefs, like abortion. Why would the government make them ignore their beliefs? Did our country's founders not come here for religious freedom?

I hope you are feeling better.

Rep. Harper is as misinformed as he is snippy, so let's clear up a few things about insurance coverage of birth control:

  1. H.B.2625, the bill making its way through the Arizona legislature would allow any employer in Arizona to deny employees contraception coverage.
  2. Arizona's contraceptive-equity law already allows churches to opt out of providing birth-control coverage.
  3. This law has been in force for a decade without controversy.

Rep. Harper's email reminds me of the old kindergarten saying, "If you don't have anything nice (or true) to say, don't say anything at all."

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