An Oklahoma mother brought her daughter to a local hospital after she was raped only to be turned away and refused help by a doctor, purportedly because the hospital lacked the staff to properly process the victim’s claims and injuries. Welcome to the reality of processing sexual assault crimes in GOP-land.
The woman and her daughter were reportedly turned away because the hospital did not have any nurses who conduct rape exams on staff. Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) are specially trained professionals who deal only with the delicate process of conducting rape exams. The SANE program is coordinated through the YWCA and is a collaboration with local law enforcement, the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office and public health officials. The collaborative effort is designed to ensure evidence is properly collected and stored without re-traumatizing the victim and ensuring the most effective prosecution of the perpetrator possible.
But programs like that can only work when there’s the resources behind them and in support of the mission. When that doesn’t happen, rape kits go uncollected, languish in processing, and evidence stales. Perpetrators go free and victims are left without any justice. Thanks to Republicans continued assault on sexual assault prevention and victim support services, SANE nurses must rotate time at different hospitals around the Oklahoma City metro-area. Which means when this victim needed one she had to transfer hospitals, further delaying the processing of her claim and any evidence that could be used in prosecution.
In this case the doctor involved refused to conduct any exam, nor would he dispense any emergency contraception. The hospital issued a statement grounding those decisions in the need to coordinate through the SANE program. It could also be that this doctor had a moral objection to treating rape victims and dispensing emergency contraception, and thanks to abusive expanses of the conscience-clause by the right, simply refused to deal with her. Either way it’s a lose-lose for rape victims who now face the prospect of looking for treatment after an assault only to be turned away because of a lack of resources or because of religious objections.
Photo from KOMUnews via flickr.