Thursday, September 25, 2008

Palin: Pro-Rape

I'll admit, I was hesitant on posting this on a blog that I wish to remain Buddhist base. I do not wish this blog to get too politically involved in the current election but, I suppose, as a woman from Palin's hometown, this is a little hard to do. I already have two or three blog mentioning Palin and my opinions about her.
This posting is different.
I am not posting this because I am against Palin.

I post this because I am Buddhist woman, one who is concerned about the suffering of the world, especially its women. And rape is definately a form of suffering, physically, emotionally, and mentally. It shouldn't have to include finacial suffering as well. I post this because I lived in Wasilla under Palin. Because Palin's pro-life stance is so extreme, it is no longer pro-life, it is pro-rape. There is no Middle Way in Palin's eyes, no room for compromise or consideration. Because I am a woman who lives in a state with one of the highest rape rates per capita. Because my sister in law was just raped last week. Because no woman should be charged $1200 after enduring a brutal rape. (Thank goodness then-governor Knowles got rid of that law.)

September 15, 2008
Life begins at rape... ask Mayor Sarah Palin
By Shannyn Moore

Can you imagine having to pay for the CSI (crime scene investigation-fingerprinting, photography, etc) if your home was robbed? What if a bill came for the breathalyzer tests if you'd been hit by a drunk driver? When Sarah Palin was mayor, the city of Wasilla had the most egregious policy against victims of rape in the state of Alaska, possibly the entire country. The rape kit, a set of items used by medical personnel for gathering and preserving physical evidence following a sexual assault, was charged to the victim. (note: step 6)

I sat with a rape victim during the "harvesting of evidence". Mascara smeared eyes stared blankly out from a cave of shame. "We've got swimmers," announced the forensic tech in the lab next door. My friend didn't look surprised. In her 60's, she was still asked if she felt the need for emergency contraception. Surviving the process would have only been compounded and made worse with an itemized bill; victimized twice courtesy of Sarah Palin and the city of Wasilla.
Much can be learned about the Palin Administration's family values from reviewing their spending priorities. Former Chief of Police Irl Stambaugh included forensic rape kits (up to $1,200 per kit) in his budget requests. He was fired by Palin in 1997. In her termination letter, Palin wrote, "…I do not feel I have your full support in my efforts to govern the city of Wasilla. Therefore I intend to terminate your employment. . . " Staumbaugh headed the police department since it was created in 1993. Before that, he served 22 years with the Anchorage Police Department rising to the rank of captain. Sarah Palin hired Charlie Fannon as the new Wasilla Chief of Police and said it was one of her best decisions as mayor. Fannon eliminated the forensic rape kits from the budget. Though the number of rapes weren't reported, Fannon claimed it would save Wasilla taxpayers $5,000 to $14,000 a year.

When Eric Croft, a Democrat Legislator from Anchorage, learned of Wasilla's policy, he drafted HB 270, which Governor Tony Knowles signed into law. The new law made it illegal for any law enforcement agency to bill victims or victims' insurance companies for the costs of examinations to collect evidence of a sexual assault or determine if a sexual assault actually occurred. Upon signing the law, Governor Knowles said, "We would never bill the victim of a burglary for the cost of gathering evidence, nor should we bill rape victims just because the crime scene happens to be their bodies."

Wasilla Police Chief Fannon protested the new law stating it would require the city and communities to come up with more funds to cover the costs of the forensic exams. Really? Are the true costs of sexual assault and forcible rape in a community only measured and reflected in the dollars spent on the forensic rape kit?

Alaska has the nation's highest per-capita rate of forcible rape. A disproportionate number of rape and sexual assault victims are Native Alaskan women. Alaska Native people in Anchorage were 9.7 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than others living in the city between 2000 and 2003. Alaska crime statistics never seemed to make a "Northern Exposure" episode. But this isn't about statistics-real lives were affected by Palin's regressive policies. One thing Alaska can't seem to export is the fundamental information around a woman's rights. Alaska "liberalized" abortion laws before Roe v. Wade. Our dirty secret had to do with a woman's right to be safe from rapists. This right to choose was not only threatened, but abolished with Sarah Palin's archaic policy as Mayor of Wasilla. The rape kit included emergency contraception. To be sure, emergency contraception is not, nor does it cause an abortion. In fact, ec prevents pregnancy and therefore reduces abortions.

Under Palin's Administration, "Life Begins at Rape" for women unable to pay for their forensic evidence gathering. Justice is served to women who can afford it and denied for those who can't. I live in Alaska-the wealthiest of the 50 states! Forcing rape victims to pay for their own forensic rape kits is something one would expect to find in a fundamentalist country overseas. I have outrage fatigue. I can't decide which facet of this policy is more upsetting. Is it the denial of justice for the poor? Is it the punishment of women who had been raped? Is it the political policies of a woman so entrenched in the "Pro-Life" movement she would deny justice to a victim? This is not a "Pro-Life" policy. This is a "Pro-Rapist" policy, and forced pregnancy policy.
It should be noted Joe Biden introduced legislation to fund rape kits to women in America. John McCain voted against it.

When Sarah Palin was elected Alaska's first female governor, I hoped these issues would be addressed as part of her "historic" platform. When Amnesty International published their study on rape statistics and Alaskan women, the response was pathetic. The now dismissed Commissioner of Public Safety, Walt Monegan, acknowledged the lack of law enforcement in Alaska as part of the problem. Since that time, Walt Monegan has been fired and $2.5 million dollars threatened from the budget for State Troopers. John Cyr is executive director of the Public Safety Employees Association, and has been very critical of the Palin administration's commitment to keep Alaskan's safer.

Under the Palin Administration, a law was passed that specifically deals with rapists. I am not making this up. It is now illegal for Alaskans to buy or sell the "Rapist No. 1" doll. Oh, you haven't heard of it? It's an "action figure" from Quentin Tarantino's film "Grindhouse." Yes, really. So now if you're raped, you can take comfort in knowing Alaska outlawed an action figure.
For all the Alaskans who have taken the charge to protect fellow citizens from predators, this was A GIANT WASTE OF TIME. It's embarrassing to write this. Who in the hell has been prosecuted for this "outrageous" purchase. Did she think people in Alaska with the propensity to rape women were suddenly dissuaded because they couldn't buy a movie action figure?
If Alaska's sexual assault statistics were true for the rest of the country, rape would be considered an epidemic and the National Guard would be called up. As Mayor and Governor, Sarah Palin has made justice illusive to criminals and forensics a commodity that victims must purchase. Meanwhile, rape prevention sits on the backburner. Being a rape victim isn't necessary for outrage. You don't need ovaries to protect the physical sanctity of fellow citizens. Life does not begin at rape, it just gets harder.

My apologies that the links don not work. The original article can be found here:


TaraDharma said...

thank you enormously for this post -- and for your support of Planned Parenthood in 'honor' of Gov. Palin. Almost every close woman friend/relative I know has been raped - including my own daughter when she was 14.

Gov. Palin boggles my mind. I don't know what world she inhabits, but it sure is scarey.

deep bows to you!

Anonymous said...

Palin required rape victims to pay for their own rape kits.

No, she didn’t try to charge rape victims personally for rape kits.

This is one of those complicated ones with a tiny hint of truth behind it.

* First, the Chief of Police in Wasilla (not Palin) did apparently have a policy of asking a victim’s health insurance to pay for the rape kit as part of the ER visit. This, it turns out, is policy in a number of states, including Missouri and North Carolina.
* Second, the way this became an issue was after the then-governor of Alaska signed a bill forbidding it; this law was signed before Palin was Governor and no one tried to reverse it while she was Governor.
* Third, what the CoP in Wasilla wanted to do was charge the perpetrator as part of restitution.

Bob Owens (Confederate Yankee) has done more investigation on this and learned some new things:

* There is no record anywhere that anyone was ever actually charged for a rape kit.
* However, the hospital might have billed a patient, just as they would bill the patient for an MRI if the attack included a head injury.
* If anyone were charged, the Alaska Victims Compensation Board would have reimbursed them. CY quotes an email that says:
Rape kits and other medical expenses of this type would be paid by the VCCB, 100% guaranteed. The City of Wasilla could have technically ‘charged’ the victim but even if they did, the VCCB would have paid the bill in full. I still know the a few of the Board members and the supervisor and I can tell you that they are very liberal with the way that they pay the victims bills.

Update: Tu quoque is never a good argument, but it turns out (via the comments at CY) that there are two interesting points:

First, it turns out that Illinois currently at least attempts to bill the victim’s insurance for the rape kits too:

(410 ILCS 70/7)
Sec. 7. Charges and reimbursement.
(a) When any ambulance provider furnishes transportation, hospital provides hospital emergency services and forensic services, hospital or health care professional or laboratory provides follow‑up healthcare, or pharmacy dispenses prescribed medications to any sexual assault survivor, as defined by the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, who is neither eligible to receive such services under the Illinois Public Aid Code NOR COVERED AS TO SUCH SERVICES BY A POLICY OF INSURANCE the ambulance provider, hospital, health care professional, or laboratory shall furnish such services to that person without charge and shall be entitled to be reimbursed for its billed charges in providing such services by the Illinois Sexual Assault Emergency Treatment Program under the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. [Emphasis mine.]

It appears that Barack Obama was a co-sponsor of the bill that estabpished this.

Second, it turns out that North Carolina hospitals billed patients directly until last month (or perhaps later, as it isn’t clear when this law takes effect):

The N.C. General Assembly approved more than $1 million this summer to revamp a program designed to help cover the cost of rape kit exams for uninsured victims. The exams are used to collect bodily evidence of an attacker and are standard in the prosecution of sex crimes.

Now, hospitals will settle directly with the state, sparing victims of sexual assault the aggravation and trauma of receiving a bill.

It turns out that Jim Hunt and now Mike Easley have been the governors of North Carolina since 1993.

It is left as an exercise for the interested reader to determine the political affiliation of these people.

Update (2300 MDT): Two more things have shown up.

First, Bob Owen has received documentation including copies of contemporaneous documents showing that the City of Wasilla did indeed pay for the rape kits of two instances before the law was in effect. As he correctly points out, these were after the law was passed, so it’s not in itself conclusive, but at least suggestive.

Second, Jim Geraghty at NRO has investigated further, and found:

1.Wasilla was not mentioned in any of the hearings. [This is contrary to what Tony Knowles, who Palin beat for the Governorship, has said recently.---CRM]

2. The deputy commissioner of Alaska’s Department of Public Safety told the State Affairs Committee that he has never found a police agency that has billed a victim. ….

To clarify: In preparation to attend a hearing and support the bill, one of the state’s top law-enforcement officials found no case of a rape victim ever being charged. And roughly a month after 30 Democratic lawyers, investigators, and opposition researchers, not to mention reporters from every major news agency in the country, landed in Alaska, we still have no instances to consider.

3. Three times, witnesses told the committees that hospitals were responsible for passing the bill on to victims, not police agencies. If the bill went straight from the hospital to the victim, without ever being sent to the police department, this would explain why no confirming paperwork could be found in the Wasilla Finance Department. This information also fortifies Palin’s claim that she was never aware of the policy, as it is more plausible that a mayor would not be aware of a private hospitals’ billing policy than of the police department’s billing policy.


1. It never happened: Wasilla never charged anyone for a rape kit.
2. If Wasilla had billed someone, it would have been reimbursed through a different state agency.
3. The only evidence offered for this is from Palin’s political enemies, offered only after she was nominated for the Vice presidency; it is unsupported, and in fact contradicted, by contemporaneous accounts.

Inner Oddness said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Inner Oddness said...

Dear Anonymous

Whether or not Palin supported the billing of rape victims is still uncertain. But here is the truth: Former Police Chief Charlie Fannon admitted to billing women, and supported it.
And Palin did nothing.
I come from Wasilla when Palin was mayor, I've met women who have been subjected to this. Trust me, it happened.