New York Governor Bans Use of Lie Detector Tests on Rape Victims; Government Bans Sedative Blamed for Date Rape
On Tuesday, Gov. George Pataki of New York signed legislation prohibiting law-enforcement officials from subjecting rape victims to polygraph tests. A previous law merely barred authorities from requiring the use of such tests. "Survivors of sexual assault should not be victimized a second time with frequent and grossly insensitive requests to take a polygraph test," Pataki said. "This bill takes a long- overdue step forward in protecting the rights of sexual assault victims." Pataki also cited the fact that emotional responses of victims while being questioned about the crime can affect the test and give the false impression that they are lying.
Advocates for rape victims have maintained that victims can be discouraged from reporting the crime if there is the potential of being subjected to a lie detector test. According to Maud Easter, the executive director of the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, "Polygraph tests have symbolized the climate in which victims do not come forward because they do not expect to be believed." Easter said passage of the bill was "one important step toward creating a new climate of respectful treatment for victims of sexual violence."
In a separate development, a sedative known as Rohypnol was banned for importation Tuesday, as the government called the pill a growing threat to teenagers and young adults. The drug, manufactured in 60 countries and used legally in 60 nations for insomnia, has often been associated with date rape. Women have reported being assaulted after their drinks were spiked with the drug which creates a drunk, sleepy feeling that peaks after two hours and lasts about eight. The drug had been gaining popularity in Florida and Texas, and is manufactured by the Swiss-based F. Hoffman La Roche & Co.
Media Resources: The New York Times - March 6, 1996; The Washington Post - March 6, 1996
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .