Missouri legislation to help survivors of sexual assault now goes to governor for signature
JEFFERSON CITY, MO (STL.News) Survivors of sexual assault will have more access to proper forensic examination and evidence collection, commonly called ‘rape kits,’ now that the “Justice for Survivors Act” advanced by state Missouri Senator Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, has received final approval in the Missouri General Assembly.
“Survivors of sexual assault deserve justice, care and comfort. Unfortunately, too many Missouri hospitals do not have the resources needed to properly respond to these traumatic situations,” Sen. Schupp said. “That is why I am deeply grateful for the bipartisan support of the ‘Justice for Survivors Act’ so that survivors will no longer be faced with the difficult decision to forgo a rape kit or to drive great distances to obtain one. This legislation will help hospitals, survivors and law enforcement put sexual predators behind bars, and I look forward to the governor signing it into law.”
Senate Bill 569, which includes Sen. Schupp’s “Justice for Survivors Act,” was approved unanimously, 31-0, in the Missouri Senate on Monday, April 27. It was subsequently approved with a 150-3 bipartisan vote in the Missouri House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 12. The legislation now goes to the governor for signature.
Senator Schupp’s “Justice for Survivors Act” amendment establishes a telehealth network of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), who are qualified to collect evidence following an attack. The measure addresses a shortage of certified personnel at many hospitals.
Currently, some Missouri hospitals are unable to conduct a complete forensic examination or properly collect evidence because they do not have a SANE on staff. Through SB 569, hospitals without a certified SANE on staff would be able to seek professional consultation through the telehealth network, allowing hospitals access 24 hours a day, seven days a week to appropriate professional assistance. The legislation requires all hospitals to provide a forensic examination to collect evidence upon request and consent of a victim of a sexual offense.