Rape Survivor Information Act

 

Summary: The Rape Survivor Information Act would require hospital emergency rooms, as well as police agencies and colleges that receive reports of sexual assault, to follow a protocol to assist sexual assault survivors, which includes providing survivors with medically accurate information about emergency contraception, and when medically appropriate, abortion.

Background Summary

Every year, nearly two million women are raped and tens of thousands become pregnant as the result of a sexual assault. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly one in five American women are raped at some point in their lives. Adding to the trauma of the assault, about five percent of victims (nearly 100,000 women per year) will become pregnant as a result of the attack. Yet, nearly 90 percent of these pregnancies could be prevented if the women had timely access to emergency contraception.

Emergency contraception provides women with a safe and effective method to prevent unintended pregnancies. Emergency contraceptives are Food and Drug Administration-approved forms of birth control that safely and effectively prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex, birth control failure, or sexual assault. Unlike Mifeprex, commonly called the “abortion pill,” emergency contraception does not induce abortion. Instead, it inhibits ovulation, fertilization or implantation before a pregnancy occurs. Some emergency contraceptive pills are available without a prescription.

Despite its benefits, many women do not know about the value or accessibility of emergency contraception. Many women of childbearing age, and especially those in their teens, are not very knowledgeable about emergency contraception or how to obtain it. Only about 22 percent of sexually active female teenagers have ever used emergency contraception. Even health care providers are not very well-informed about all the options for emergency contraception.

Most rape survivors are never told about emergency contraception. Thousands of women are raped on college campuses and never report the crime to police. Thousands more report the crime but never go to a hospital seeking medical assistance. Even when they do visit the hospital they may not be offered emergency contraception. And yet, it should be obvious that every rape survivor should be informed about emergency contraception.

The U.S Department of Justice and leading medical associations agree that emergency contraception should be offered to all survivors of sexual assault. The U.S. Department of Justice recommends that sexual assault survivors be given both information about emergency contraception and the medicine itself if requested. The American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association, American College of Emergency Physicians, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and American Academy of Pediatrics have all publicly declared their official support for policies that require hospitals to offer emergency contraception to all survivors of sexual assault 

Sexual assault survivors should be offered accurate, unbiased information about abortion. Some women may not report a sexual assault or seek medical care within the time in which emergency contraception has been approved for use by the FDA. Those women, as well as any woman who requests it, should be offered accurate, unbiased information about abortion so that they are fully informed about all options available to them.


Model Legislation

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE

This Act shall be called the “Rape Survivor Information Act.”

SECTION 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE

(A) FINDINGS—The legislature finds that:

1)      According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly one in five American women are raped at some point in their lives—nearly two million each year.

2)      Adding to the trauma, about five percent of sexual assault survivors become pregnant as a result of the attack.

3)      Nearly 90 percent of these pregnancies could be prevented if sexual assault survivors had timely access to emergency contraception.

4)      Approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration, emergency contraception prevents pregnancy after sexual intercourse; emergency contraceptives available in the U.S. and approved by the FDA have no effect on an existing pregnancy.

5)      While standards of emergency care established by the American Medical Association require that sexual assault survivors be counseled about their risk of pregnancy and offered emergency contraception, many hospitals fail to provide emergency contraception to sexual assault survivors.

6)      The U.S. Department of Justice recommends that sexual assault survivors be given both information about emergency contraception and the medicine itself, if requested.

7)      While police agencies and colleges receive thousands of reports of sexual assault each year, they often do not counsel survivors about the availability of emergency contraception.

(B) PURPOSE—This law is enacted to protect the health, safety and welfare of sexual assault survivors.

SECTION 3. EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT SURVIVORS

After section XXX, the following new section XXX shall be inserted:

(A) DEFINITIONS—In this section:

1)      “Abortion” means any medical treatment intended to induce the termination of a pregnancy except for the purpose of producing a live birth.

2)      “Colleges and Universities” means any institution of higher education that is covered by federal Title IX.

3)      “Department” means the state Department of [Health].

4)      “Emergency contraception” means any drug or device approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that prevents pregnancy after sexual intercourse.

5)      “Healthcare facility” means a hospital, emergency care facility, health clinic or other healthcare center that provides emergency care to sexual assault survivors.

6)      “Law enforcement authority” means any law enforcement agency of the state or its subdivisions that receives reports of sexual assault.

7)       “Sexual assault survivor” means any person who alleges or is alleged to have been the victim of a sexual assault where there is a possibility that the assault may result in pregnancy.

(B) HEALTH PROTOCOLS FOR ASSISTING SEXUAL ASSAULT SURVIVORS

1)      The Department shall develop, produce and distribute informational materials about emergency contraception and abortion services that are specifically designed for sexual assault survivors, presented in a factually accurate and unbiased manner.

2)      The Department shall develop protocols that use the informational materials and describe how healthcare facilities, law enforcement authorities and colleges and universities, respectively, should provide this information to sexual assault survivors.

3)      In a situation when a sexual assault was recent enough that emergency contraception may be effective, the Department’s protocols for law enforcement authorities and colleges and universities shall include providing information to the sexual assault survivor about the safety, effectiveness and availability of emergency contraception, as well as the fact that emergency contraception does not cause abortion.

4)      In a situation when a sexual assault was recent enough that emergency contraception may be effective, the Department’s healthcare facility protocols shall include the following healthcare facility requirements:

a)      Provide the survivor with objective and factually accurate written and oral information about the full range of medical options, including the safety, effectiveness and availability of emergency contraception, as well as the fact that emergency contraception does not cause abortion;

b)      Orally inform the survivor of the option to receive emergency contraception at the healthcare facility;

c)      Promptly provide to the survivor emergency contraception upon request; and

d)      Ensure that all personnel who provide care to survivors are trained to provide medically and factually accurate and objective information about emergency contraception.

5)      The Department’s healthcare facility protocols shall include providing information to sexual assault survivors about legal abortion when medically appropriate.

(C) IMPLEMENTATION OF HEALTH PROTOCOLS

1)      Public and private healthcare facilities, law enforcement authorities, and colleges and universities shall follow the Department’s protocols for assisting sexual assault survivors written for healthcare facilities, law enforcement authorities, and colleges and universities, respectively, including the use of the Department’s informational materials.

2)      Public and private healthcare facilities, law enforcement authorities, and public and private colleges and universities shall ensure that each person who takes reports from, or provides care to, sexual assault survivors has been trained to implement the Department’s protocols.

(D) ENFORCEMENT

1)      The Department shall use its regulatory authority to ensure that healthcare facilities follow the protocols that apply to them.

2)      The [Office of the Attorney General] shall use its regulatory authority to ensure that law enforcement authorities follow the protocols that apply to them.

3)      The [Department of Education] shall use its regulatory authority to ensure that colleges and universities follow the protocols that apply to them.

SECTION 4. SEVERABILITY

The provisions of this Act shall be severable, and if any phrase, clause, sentence or provision is declared to be invalid, is preempted by federal law or regulation, or results in noncompliance with federal requirements that are a condition to the allocation of federal funds to the state, those words are inapplicable and the validity of the remainder of this Act shall not be affected.

SECTION 5 . EFFECTIVE DATE

This Act shall take effect on XXXX 1, 2016.

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