Bill of the Week: Surviving Sexual Assault

Bill would ease ability of victims to get medical care

Bill of the Week: Surviving Sexual Assault

After she was raped, it took Arlington resident Nicole Anderson five hours of traveling to three different cities to find the medical help she needed. It took so long to find a hospital ready to collect evidence of the sexual assault that any evidence that she was drugged was lost. "Now I'll never have proof," she told lawmakers last month.

A bill that has now passed both houses – without opposition – seeks to ease the ability of sexual assault victims to timely access the medical help they need, allowing for the collection of evidence in a rape kit.

Senate Bill 1191, by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, would allow sexual assault victims to access care at any hospital, and would require providers to be trained on evidence collection. As it stands, Davis told the Senate Criminal Justice Committee in late April, sexual assault survivors are only able to have a sexual assault exam performed at facilities that have been designated for that purpose in a community-wide plan. In Anderson's case that meant driving around for hours, and visiting three separate hospitals before getting the care she needed; indeed, as it stands, Dallas county only has two hospitals designated to perform sex assault examinations. Her bill would provide "sexual assault survivors an open door in deciding where they'll receive care," Davis told the committee. The measure would also require the Department of State Health Services to maintain a list of hospitals available for care.

Rape remains vastly underreported and the current restriction places an obstacle in the way of victims who report the crimes against them, Davis and Anderson said. "Making the choice to seek help and...justice isn't easy for everyone," Anderson said. "Getting medical help shouldn't be an obstacle."

Davis' measure builds on her previous successes in the area of aiding sexual assault victims. In 2011, Davis proposed a measure to require certification for sexual assault nurse examiners (SB 533), while another measure created new guidelines for processing rape kits, in an effort to reduce the backlog of forensic evidence waiting to be tested (SB 1636). Both measures were passed and took effect Sept. 1, 2011.

Davis' current proposal, which should soon be on it's way to Gov. Rick Perry's desk for signature, will help sexual assault "victims" become sexual assault "survivors," said Glenn Stockard with the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Legislature
Court Rules Texas School Finance Unconstitutional
Court Rules Texas School Finance Unconstitutional
Dietz says current system fails students, must be rebuilt

Richard Whittaker, Aug. 28, 2014

Dietz Stays on School Finance Suit
Dietz Stays on School Finance Suit
Hail Mary play by AG Abbott fails to force judicial recusal

Richard Whittaker, June 24, 2014

More 83rd Legislature
The End of the Dewhurst Era
The End of the Dewhurst Era
Will the Senate strip the powers of the next lite guv?

Richard Whittaker, June 5, 2014

No Room at the Health Care Inn
No Room at the Health Care Inn
State policies endangering women's lives in the Valley

Jordan Smith, Nov. 12, 2013

More by Jordan Smith
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
Motoreum's Yusuf & Antonio talk about the biz and their reality TV debut

May 22, 2014

Eighth Inmate of the Year Set to Die
Eighth Inmate of the Year Set to Die
Eighth inmate of the year set to die

May 9, 2014


Cops, rape, sexual assault, Legislature, 83rd Legislature, criminal justice, Wendy Davis, SB 1191, rape kit, DNA, hospitals, Department of State Health Services

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle