Legislation Expands the Sexual Assault Survivors Emergency Treatment Act to Ensure All Survivors Have Timely Access to Care
Chicago —(ENEWSPF)—April 27, 2018
By: Rosemary Piser
Attorney General Lisa Madigan applauded the Illinois House of Representatives for passing legislation ensuring survivors of sexual assault receive appropriate medical care and increase successful prosecutions of sexual assaults.
Illinois House Bill 5245 will expand the Sexual Assault Survivors Emergency Treatment Act to ensure that all survivors of sexual assault are treated in a timely manner by health care professionals who are specially trained to conduct forensic examinations of sexual assault survivors. It also allows sexual abuse survivors under the age of 13 to receive specialized care at an approved pediatric health care facility. The legislation passed the House unanimously now moves to the Senate for further action.
Attorney General Madigan said, “Sexual assault survivors need and deserve compassionate care that specifically treats the physical and emotional trauma they have experienced. We have already changed our laws to better respond to survivors of sexual assault in the criminal justice system. Now hospitals need to make good on their promises to improve medical care provided to the thousands of adults and children who experience these horrible traumas each year.”
Representative Michael Unes, the bill’s sponsor said, “Child survivors of sexual assault are particularly vulnerable, and it is imperative that they receive highly specialized treatment. I appreciate the Attorney General’s continued advocacy for crime victims, and I thank my colleagues for supporting this important measure.”
“The first encounter a survivor of rape or sexual assault has following the attack can lay the foundation for a survivor’s recovery, which is why it is so critical for first responders and medical personnel to have specialized training,” Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, one of the measure’s co-sponsors said.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) are trained to collect physical evidence following a sexual assault, respond to the psychological needs of a survivor, and testify in court. Since 2003, Madigan’s office has provided classroom training to more than 1,500 clinicians across the state, yet only 300 of those nurses have completed the clinical training required to become a practicing SANE in large part due to a lack of support from the hospitals where they work. At present, only 150 SANEs are practicing in emergency departments in Illinois hospitals and no hospital has a 24/7 SANE program.
The legislation is supported by a bipartisan group of legislators as well as the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, Illinois State’s Attorneys Association, Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, Rape Victim Advocates, Illinois NOW (National Organization of Women), International Association of Forensic Nurses – Illinois Chapter, and the Illinois Emergency Nurses Association.
Attorney General Madigan’s Crime Victim Services Division manages programs that provide assistance to crime victims and service providers. For more information about the Crime Victims Services Division or the rights afforded to survivors of a crime in Illinois, please visit Madigan’s website or call her office’s toll-free Crime Victims’ Assistance Line: 1-800-228-3368 or 1-877-398-1130 (TTY).