What you need to know about Ohio Politics and Policy
· May 11, 2012
Ohio legislation should address medical, not just psychological treatment of rape victims
In Ohio, one in six women will one day experience a rape or sexual assault. Only 38 of Ohio’s 88 counties have agencies that provide rape-crisis services, including counseling and advocacy. While each of these statistics are alarming on their own, taken together they point to the need for action.
Representative Nan Baker’s House Bill 488 makes progress in addressing this problem. The bill establishes the Rape Crisis Program Trust Fund, which would make funds available to Rape Crisis Centers throughout the state. This dedicated funding would help to expand the availability of rape crisis services in counties that currently have none and would provide a steady source of support to existing centers. The funding in the bill comes from additional court costs of $100 for those found guilty of a felony or misdemeanor sex offenses and would distributed through the Attorney General’s Office.
While these are important steps in the right direction and treat the mental and emotional effects of sexual assault, the Ohio legislature would be wise to consider two additional bills that ensure women’s medical needs are met in a comprehensive response to the needs of rape survivors. The Ohio Compassionate Assistance in Rape Emergencies (CARE) Act (HB419 and SB283) ensures that victims of sexual assaults are given access to and information on emergency contraception, information about STDs, and counseling about physical and mental health when they are treated in hospital emergency rooms. By creating strong standards of care for all hospitals, this bill will ensure that survivors of sexual assaults receive appropriate care in the aftermath of an assault.
The Ohio Prevention First Act (HB 281 and SB 190) takes a preventative approach, offering a range of measures aimed at reducing unwanted pregnancies, including assurance that sexual assault victims have access to emergency contraception and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases in all hospital emergency rooms.
Both bills – each with a Senate and House version – have been introduced in the 129th General Assembly, but none has had so much as a single committee hearing.
Members of the Ohio legislature should be commended for their efforts to provide funding for rape crisis centers, but should take a holistic approach that includes needed medical care for rape survivors. We recommend simultaneous passage of the CARE or Prevention First legislation, either as companion bills, or as amendments to HB 488.
Consider joining us for Lobby Day on Tuesday, May 15 and encourage your representatives, in person, to pass a comprehensive response to the needs to sexual assault victims. Learn more about attending.