Missouri Bill Would Expand Rape Kit Access to Nurses

Missouri lawmakers are waiting on the Governor to sign a bill that would expand rape exam access to trained nurses at all hospitals and require rape kits be stored by the state’s Department of Public Safety for five years for victims who don’t immediately press charges.

Currently, the state only allows nurses certified under the International Association of Forensic Nurses to collect DNA for rape kits. Only 29 nurses in the state are certified, making it difficult for rape victims to obtain a rape kit. Sometimes victims have to travel long distances to hospitals with certified nurses in order to receive a rape kit. 

This bill would establish a program allowing uncertified nurses to be guided through an exam by specialists via videoconferencing. If Gov. Mike Parson signs the bill, the program will need funding from grants, state funds or private donations to pay for the kits, the storage of those kits, trained nurses or specialists and wouldn’t take effect until 2023.

The Realist Woman’s take:

The power behind rape kits is the evidence it holds of the assault between the victim and the perpetrator, collected in an effort to catch and prosecute him. It’s almost always a "him." But sexual assault is not viewed as a priority to our country as thousands of rape kit backlogs exist all across this country.

Exams either sit and remain untested at crime labs and medical facilities or local municipalities don’t have enough resources for rape kits. It’s a gross injustice to the victims as sexual assault takes place in this country every 73 seconds, with the highest at-risk being people between the ages of 12 to 34.

The fact that only 29 nurses are certified for rape exams in the entire state of Missouri is shocking to me. And the nurses have to pay for the certification themselves because the hospitals don’t have the money or simply won’t cover the cost. I’m hoping the next piece of news I read coming out of Missouri has to do with the Governor signing this bill and committing funding for this program.

Hospitals across the state would have to provide exams at victim’s request