Rape

Louisiana Will End Billing of Victims for Rape Kits

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gageskidmore/Flickr

Louisiana officials are working to end policies that leave rape victims with bills for their medical forensic exams. On Tuesday, Gov. Bobby Jindal's office convened various state lawmakers, health officials, law-enforcement agents, and victims' advocates to address the situation, which was brought to light by a NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune investigation last month. 

"We want to stand with these victims and make sure we have a solution to help them get the medical care they need," said Shannon Bates, deputy communications director for Gov. Jindal, in a statement. The governor's office is slated unveil more details later this week. 

Louisiana and federal guidelines require that those alleging rape receive medical forensic testing (what's often called "a rape kit") free of charge, just as victims of other crimes can count on cops not to bill them for forensic evidence collection. But the Times-Picayune investigation revealed that bureaucratic bungling by both government officials and hospital staff resulted in rape victims being billed thousands of dollars for forensic testing and associated services, such as HIV and pregnancy tests. Some sought reimbursement from Louisiana's victims compensation fund, but this money is only available to those who meet a bevy of eligibility requirements unrelated to the assault.  

Louisiana is one of a handful of U.S. states that leaves covering the cost of rape kits to individual parishes or counties, an approach that has resulted in ample inconsistency in the way tests are conducted and paid for. "Everyone is doing their own thing and (in most cases) they're doing it wrong," state Rep. Helena Moreno (D-New Orleans) told the Times-Picayune. Louisiana lawmakers will also discuss the issue at a meeting in Baton Rouge later this month.

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  1. “Everyone is doing their own thing and (in most cases) they’re doing it wrong,” state Rep. Helena Moreno (D-New Orleans) told the Times-Picayune.

    Translation: NEEDZ MOAR TOP MEN!!!

      1. A particularly apropos link to SugarFree, HM.

  2. A chance to post this as a semi-on-topic link: Is Transgender the “Get Out Of Rape Prosecution Free Card”? Twitter rapist Dana McCallum walks

    A quote from the raped ex-wife:

    I must say that it deeply saddens me that as a victim, my only public support has been from hate groups. I expected more from the LGBT and feminist community. It’s a shame that they can’t do the emotional work it requires to process that someone they love is capable of such an awful crime. That is their burden to carry, though.

    1. ” I expected more from the LGBT and feminist community.”

      Why?

    2. Dana McCallum is a “male transgender”? Fuck. You.

      I feel like the takeaway I’m supposed to have is that no one with XY chromosomes should get due process or presumption of innocence, transwomen included, yet I’m slightly unconvinced.

    3. Also, just because a transwoman decides not to get SRS doesn’t mean that she has a functioning penis.

  3. Louisiana and federal guidelines require that those alleging rape receive medical forensic testing (what’s often called “a rape kit”) free of charge, just as victims of other crimes can count on cops not to bill them for forensic evidence collection.

    And when there is a crime being investigated for which there can be forensic evidence collection, which is to say, the victim makes a criminal complaint, the bill for the evidence collection should be covered by the PD. I don’t see why the state should have to pay for something that isn’t, and can’t be, evidence collection because no crime is even alleged.

    But the Times-Picayune investigation revealed that bureaucratic bungling by both government officials and hospital staff resulted in rape victims being billed thousands of dollars for forensic testing and associated services, such as HIV and pregnancy tests.

    These associated services have nothing to do with investigating a crime, so why should the state have to pay for them? Other, perhaps, than out of a crime victim’s fund.

    1. And when there is a crime being investigated for which there can be forensic evidence collection, which is to say, the victim makes a criminal complaint…

      Well, that is what we’re talking about.

      1. I got a bill in the mail for my rape kit a year ago. I paid it and opted not to attempt to navigate the circuitous channels for reimbursement.

        I figured it was just as unlikely I would be reimbursed as it was the cops would find the guy.

    2. I don’t see why the state should have to pay for something that isn’t, and can’t be, evidence collection because no crime is even alleged.

      It’s pennies compared to all the other crap and if she wasn’t raped in the first place the accused can counter-sue.

      I see this as a win-win all around. For women and gents.

      1. if she wasn’t raped in the first place the accused can counter-sue.

        What accused? If no crime is alleged, there is no accused.

        1. Dude, if your ass was penetrated without consent what is your recourse?

  4. I’m the victim in the McCallum case. I was not billed for my rape kit exam. The “system” actually took very good care of me and I continue to receive city or state funding for trauma counseling. I am satisfied with the sentence she was given and want to move on. I’m dismayed that the focus of the conversation continues to be about her genitals or chromosomal status. It doesn’t matter what she used to violate me. What matters is that it was a substance abuse-related sexually violent crime. I hope the discourse can shift to something more relevant and productive.

  5. Pretty sure Jindal is going to claim not being able to bill victims who require rape kits is going to harm Louisiana’s economy.

    I’m sure if he thought he could get away with it he would advocate for charging people who are shot by police officers having to pay for the cost of the bullets.

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