Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation to ensure victims of a sexual crime are not charged for any part of the medical or forensic examination related to the crime, fulfilling a priority outlined in his January State of the State address.
Victims of sexual assault have been charged as much as $800 for a forensic nurse visit and the collection of evidence that will later be used by prosecutors. Senate Bill 1593, sponsored by Sen. Sine Kerr of Buckeye, will change that.
“Charging victims of sexual crimes for their medical examinations is shameful, and we cannot let it happen in Arizona,” Ducey said.
“There is no other crime where a victim is charged for the collection of evidence — so thanks to the leadership and advocacy of Sen. Kerr and community groups across the state, tightening the law with Senate Bill 1593. Arizona will continue to stand up for victims and survivors and help protect them as they recover, and I thank everyone who supported this crucial legislation.”
The legislation prohibits health care institutions from charging an intake, consultation, facility or other fee to a patient as part of a medical and forensic interview or examination for a sexual assault. It also prohibits health care institutions from billing a sexual assault patient seeking care either directly or through a billing company.
“Sending victims of sexual abuse a bill for their examinations is an unacceptable and abusive practice,” Kerr said.
“Senate Bill 1593 will make sure it no longer happens in Arizona. I was proud to sponsor this important legislation and work with my fellow legislators to pass it unanimously through both the House and Senate. I’m grateful to Gov. Ducey for his dedication to supporting sexual assault survivors and all vulnerable Arizonans, and for signing this legislation that will protect so many people moving forward.”
Additionally, SB 1593 expands the list of sexual offenses for which counties are required to pay for medical and forensic examinations to include additional sexual crimes against victims ages 15 to 17 who were not included in the prior statute.
Each county must also publish on its website the name of the county official who is responsible for paying the expenses for any medical or forensic examination.
“Survivors of sexual violence deserve care, compassion and support,” said Trevor Umphress, Arizona Child and Family Advocacy Network executive director.
“They should never receive a bill for their medical examinations — just like every other crime. We are grateful to Gov. Ducey, Sen. Kerr and everyone who supported Senate Bill 1593 for their attention to this important issue.”
In 2016, the governor established the Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit Task Force to address the unacceptable injustice of untested rape kits in Arizona.
Arizona in 2017 worked in a bipartisan manner to clear the backlog of untested rape kits. To accomplish this goal, the governor signed legislation to establish time limits, standards and reporting requirements for the processing of rape kits to ensure all future kits are tested.
In May 2019, Ducey ceremonially signed legislation to strengthen protections for victims of child sexual abuse by extending the amount of time victims have to pursue civil action against perpetrators.