Sarah Palin and Her Outrageous Rape Kit Policy

Charging victims for rape kits so their assailants can be charged—an offense to women and justice.

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Mountains of controversy are swirling around Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's strange policy of forcing rape victims to pay for their own rape kits while she was mayor of the now-infamous town of Wasilla.

The most interesting take I've found is posted by Alaska blogger Shannyn Moore who relates the following:

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.

Palin supporters ought to be taking a much closer look at her record on these types of issues (charging rape victims for evidentiary examinations so their attackers can be brought to trial) than whether she can juggle five children and the vice presidency. This, more than anything, should push women, pro-life and pro-choice, away from the McCain-Palin ticket. It's one thing to oppose abortion on moral grounds. It's quite another to charge crime victims for their own forensic examinations. Such a policy is nothing short of outrageous.