Senator Murray and Congresswoman Jayapal to reintroduce bipartisan bill to improve and expand health care services for survivors of sexual assault

Survivors’ Access to Supportive Care Act helps develop national standards of care for survivors of sexual assault and tackle barriers they face when seeking care

2016 GAO report requested by Senator Murray found major barriers for survivors seeking care after sexual assault

Murray: “When a survivor of sexual assault goes to a hospital, they deserve respect, compassion, and a commitment to helping them get justice, that’s why it’s critical hospitals have staff trained to treat sexual assault survivors. But right now in this country, we know that is not always the case.”

Jayapal: “Passing SASCA is a straight-forward and essential step in assisting states and health care providers to be better prepared to care for survivors of assault”

Washington, D.C. – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) will reintroduce the Survivors’ Access to Supportive Care Act (SASCA), a bipartisan, bicameral bill to help improve and expand access to health care services for survivors of sexual assault. Senator Murray firstintroduced SASCA in 2016, after a Seattle constituent, Leah Griffin, shared her personal story of surviving a sexual assault and then struggling to get access to the health care services she need in order to seek justice—including a forensic examination.

“When a survivor of sexual assault goes to a hospital, they deserve respect, compassion, and a commitment to helping them get justice. That’s why it’s critical hospitals have staff trained to treat sexual assault survivors. But right now in this country, we know that is not always the case,” saidSenator Murray. “When Leah Griffin reached out to my office and shared how she went to a hospital seeking care after a sexual assault only to be told no one there could administer a rape kit and she should go to another hospital, I was appalled. I introduced the Survivors’ Access to Supportive Care Act to help make sure all survivors can get compassionate, experienced care that meets their needs and helps them hold perpetrators accountable. Thanks to Leah—who has been to D.C. countless times to share her story and advocate for this bill—we now have bipartisan support in the Senate and House, and I’m going to keep working with her to get this done for sexual assault survivors everywhere.”

“One out of every six American women and millions of American men have been victims of completed or attempted rape in their lifetimes, but a large majority of U.S. Emergency rooms do not have Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) to provide necessary treatment and forensic services. When you go to a hospital, you expect helpful, quality care,” said Representative Jayapal. “We cannot, and will not, have a lower standard for those experiencing the trauma of rape or sexual assault. Passing SASCA is a straight-forward and essential step in assisting states and health care providers to be better prepared to care for survivors of assault.”

“After my rape, I was turned away from a hospital that did not provide rape kits. I eventually found a hospital that did, but that delay in care contributed to the prosecutor’s decision to decline charges in my case,” said Leah Griffin. “We have a justice system that demands empirical evidence to prosecute rape, but denies victims access to evidence collection. Today, Senator Murray and Congresswoman Jayapal reconfirm their commitment to passing the bipartisan Survivors Access to Supportive Care Act, signaling a meaningful step towards addressing the problems faced by too many survivors.”

“In Washington state and at the federal level we are very supportive of the effort to establish best practices for SANE nurse training,” said Cassie Sauer, CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association.“Access to highly trained SANE nurses is critical for survivors of sexual assault and to ensure evidence is properly collected. “

SASCA would direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish a national training and continuing education pilot program to expand access to health care for survivors of sexual assault and develop federal standards around examinations and treatment. It would also establish a pilot grant program to expand medical forensic exam training and services to new providers to increase access, and create a national sexual assault taskforce to better understand sexual assault health care services and treatment and address survivors’ needs. To address the current lack of data on the availability of sexual assault nurse examinations (SANE) and sexual assault forensic examinations (SAFE), SASCA would provide for state-level review of current practices to better understand deficits in care, develop best practices, and improve public awareness of forensic examinations. SASCA would also require hospitals to report on SAFE/SANE training and access to these vital examinations.

SASCA has been endorsed by the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, RAINN, the International Association of Forensic Nurses, the Joyful Heart Foundation, End Violence Against Women International, the Academy of Forensic Nurses, the Washington State Hospital Association, Harborview Medical Center, and UW Medicine.

Click HERE for text of the bill.

Click HERE for fact sheet.