Despite a 1996 state law that prohibits charging rape victims for forensic exams or kits used to collect evidence after a rape, three counties in Georgia have been charging women as much as $1,200 to cover costs that the law states should be paid for by law enforcement. Exams performed on rape victims are criminal investigation tools police use to catch and prosecute rapists; police departments do not charge the victims in any other type of criminal investigation. Rape victim advocates at the Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault (GNESA) worry that the high cost of the tests and police departments’ lack of additional funding to cover the costs mean the burden has shifted to the victim. GNESA advocates also worry that police officers are not ordering rape exams for victims in order to avoid incurring the cost of the examinations. Paying for the examinations with insurance introduces additional patient privacy concerns, as insurance companies may discriminate against the victim if she/he has been exposed to HIV. Victims may also be forced to reveal the assault to the primary insurance holder, which could be a family member or an employer.
Media Resources: Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault; Atlanta Journal-Constitution – March 5, 2001
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. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .