Charging women for their own rape kits?

This is one of those things I simply can't fathom. How does a woman pretend to be pro-women and then charge other women for basic forensic services following a rape?

She justifies it as necessary to cut taxes. Which begs the question: how much of a tax burden did sex crimes place on the town of Wasilla?

If your answer is "not much", I simply can't understand how this basic service now becomes the responsibility of the victim, who has to rebuild her life after a traumatic event. (Unless you're one of them thar self-loathin' wimmen who blames the victim, but that's another can 'o' worms.) Certainly there's got to be some books to burn or a librarian to fire, which will save a lot more money.

If your answer is "a lot", doesn't that mean you're soft on crime? Rapists are running rampant through the community? Placing such a burden to your community that it's going bankrupt, and there is absolutely no possible to make up the shortfall? What kind of dog-and-pony show are you running with your police force over there?

If cutting taxes is a priority over violent felonies like sexual assault, why not just start cutting the police force? I'm sure you'd save a whole lot of money there. Start with... say... your ex brother-in-law.

More like this

If you're here for the physics and not the politics, skip this entry. I wouldn't blame you. It irritates me to read politics on science sites too, but with the election only about two months away it's hard to resist the temptation. Here we go. Neurotopia links to an article criticizing Sarah…
This is another in our Daily Dose of Sarah Palin, because even if John McCain didn't think it was that important to learn a lot about the person who might be the next President should some medical event befall the 72 year old cancer survivor should he be elected, most people want more information.…
The Rolling Stone article, "A Rape on Campus" should be a must read for every one who attends college, plans to attend college, or has children or loved ones on a college campus, especially one with a significant fraternity presence. UVa is my alma mater for two of my degrees, but this story…
Hate is a strong word, it goes beyond mere distaste and disagreement. The people who left death threats and scared Kathy Sierra out of a planned appearance didn't just hate her. They had no reason to hate a person who writes a blog about computer interfaces. Their hate is for women, and their…

Americablog has just posted an item which (if the Obama camp had any brains) would be front and centre. McCain opposed Biden's 1994 legislation which stopped charging women for rape kits, and voted against it as late as 2007…. Basically, Biden is a real fighter for women, while McCain & Palin seemingly couldn't give a stuff.

Where is the Obama campign on this? From the horrible 'teaching kids sex' ad (so McCain likes child-molesters?), to Palins wish to start WW3, as well as Troopergate and McCain's coverup of Cindy McCains drug addiction;jsessionid=0F3D19E88B6B68ED86FC26E… , there are a vast number of reasons to stop McCain and Palin getting anywhere near the White House, but Obama had better start kicking back, or thats the way its going to be.

HuffPo is right, we need some 'righteous rage'… - I want to him to be a 'mean motherfucker', cos thats what its going to take to beat these slimeballs.

I once asked why there was no "Uncle Tom" style term for male-chauvinists who happened to be female. Apparently "Republican" is such a term. Who knew?

It's hard to comprehend anyone making a decision like that. What possible rationale could there be? You might just as well privatise the police force: it makes as much sense.

It's good to see that it doesn't appear that anyone ever was billed.

Ok, I'm confused. I thought that even serious gung-ho libertarians think of law enforcement as a legitimate state function. And surely anybody who is Tough On Crime(tm) should be in favor of resources for police functions.

Are rape kits just too medical looking, or is rape a kinda not really crime? WTF.

phisrow: There are some people who seriously believe that most rape reports that don't involve being dragged into an alley and held at gunpoint are false. You know, just women having second thoughts the morning after. Why waste money on that?

I don't see it as anything other than a way of discouraging rape reports, since the victim not only has to bear the financial burden, but is also given the message that the crime isn't worth the communities resources to investigate.

It is worth reading the source article if you have not done so. It is certainly unclear what role Ms. Palin had in the policy. In addition to the practice possibility of billing of insurance companies when possible(which has been done in in other states), the Wasilla police chief is fairly explicit in his position that the fees for the testing should be obtained by the city from the perpetrator as part of restitution. It is not clear what the practice was when there was no insurance in place (i.e., was the estimated cost of the kits to the city cited by the police the cost of all kits and associated testing or the estimated loss in insurance receipts). From the article, I do not see any evidence that anyone was advocating directly charging the victims for the services, nor that any victims were actually charged (which would be reprehensible if it happened).

By Druceratops (not verified) on 09 Sep 2008 #permalink

Peggy-- it effectively enforces one of the Republican's most important social roles. It punishes the poorest for merely being poor. Paying for your own rape kit would basically amount to a regressive tax.

Druceratops-- I think it's worth noting that the Repubs consider themselves the party of principle. If the primary principle of concern here is taxes over health and public safety, what happens when the policy actually needs to be enforced? Why would anyone trust people with such warped principles?


I am not sure I understand your point completely. My intention was to point out that, as with many media reports, there is insufficient detail to make an informed judgement on the issue. I have not even seen a clear description of what the existing policy was when the new law was passed.

If it was the practice in Ms. Palin's administration in Wasilla that victims of rape were directly charged for the forensic rape kit processing then she deserves all of the opprobrium dished out by the previous commenters. Since all we have is the police chief's comments, in my opinion, the evidence in the cited article falls well short of demonstrating that.

The issue is further complicated by the fact that the legisation that was the subject of the police chief's comments covered not only the rape kits but also all of the diagnostic tests for STDs as well as any emergency contraception (which is probably how he could get a figure of $14,000 in costs for a town where it is likely that no more than 3-5 rapes are reported annually). In my opinion, the former is clearly the responsibility of law enforcement, whereas for the latter it is less clear cut. Analagously, if I were stabbed, I would expect the police to be reponsible for all of the forensic analysis of the wound, but I am not sure how we can expect the local government to pay for my diagnosis and treatment if I have insurance. I would expect that my insurance company would pay for the treatment and then try to recover there costs from my assailant if he were convicted.

By Druceratops (not verified) on 09 Sep 2008 #permalink

Which begs the question: how much of a tax burden did sex crimes place on the town of Wasilla?

It also raises the rather interesting question of why [i]this particular element[/i] of the criminal justice system is the one singled out. The rest of the system certainly [i]does[/i] place an impressive tax burden on society... Why not force victims (or their insurers) to pay all the [i]other[/i] costs of investigation and prosecution? Why just this one?

(I'm going to ignore the misuse of the term "to beg the question". Oh wait, no I'm not...)

I would say that if the cost of rape kits is a significant burden on the budget, then you have far bigger problems than the budget and a state of emergency is a good call.
If there are so many rapes that the cost of kits is burdensome, then clearly there is a massive law-enforcement and security problem.

Charging the cost to the victim comes close in sheer incomprehensibility to the practice of charging underage hookers with prostitution.

I agree with Spud. The only way rape kits can be a huge burden is if rape is happening an incredible amount, in which case, other things need to be looked at first.

Druceratops says: "...I would expect that my insurance company would pay for the treatment and then try to recover there costs from my assailant if he were convicted."
Well, your insurance pays 80% after the $1,000.-- deductible,... so there is a cash problem for any medical procedure for a victim, even if insured.[Your insurance may be better, but if you are brought to a hospital not approved by your insurance?] I suspect that the insurance will not seriously go after the perpetrator, as the amount recovered would be too small compared to the amount they'd have to pay the hospital (after you paid your deductible and co-pay).--