UPDATE: I am answering in bold my own questions below, Thanks to links/comments from JG, Rory and other readers.

When someone as smart as Ken Thomas ’93 gets tricked by this rape kits nonsense, it is time to devote a thread to the topic.

A more important question to me would be: did any soul choose not to have a test, or not even to call or show up to the hospital, because of Wasilla’s exceptional policy?

Ms. Palin chose to use State power to disempower women, based on her religious beliefs. Period. And tip of the iceberg.

Please. I have not had time to investigate this properly, but this gibberish — that Sarah Palin originated a policy to charge rape victims for the forensic kits used to gather evidence — seems, on its face, totally implausible. Why on earth would she do this? Conservatives like to arrest/prosecute/jail rapists. They are, if nothing else, law-and-order folks. Why would Palin, or any conservative, do this?

So, consider this a thread where the anti-Palin’s among the Ephs might substantiate, with quotes and links, this charge. My questions:

1) What was the policy before Palin became mayor? If the policy was in place before she showed up then, obviously, she bears less blame for it?

Unclear. The available evidence suggests that, in at least some parts of Alaska, the same policy held prior to 2000. We have no direct evidence on Wasilla prior to 1996.

2) Did anyone complain about the policy while she was mayor and, therefore, in a position to do something about it? If no one complained, then I would suspect that Palin did not even know about it.

There were widespread complains in 2000, at least.

3) Was Palin in a position to change the policy, even if she was informed of it? Not all mayors control the hospitals in their jurisdiction. If you have a problem with, say, Mass General Hospital, there is little point in going to Boston Mayor Meninno, since the city does not run/control MGH?

Palin seems to have control over at least one hospital. The key contemporay article is from 2000.

While the Alaska State Troopers and most municipal police agencies have covered the cost of exams, which cost between $300 to $1,200 apiece, the Wasilla police department does charge the victims of sexual assault for the tests.

Wasilla Police Chief Charlie Fannon does not agree with the new legislation, saying the law will require the city and communities to come up with more funds to cover the costs of the forensic exams.

In the past weve charged the cost of exams to the victims insurance company when possible. I just don’t want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer, Fannon said.

According to Fannon, the new law will cost the Wasilla Police Department approximately $5,000 to $14,000 a year to collect evidence for sexual assault cases.

Ultimately it is the criminal who should bear the burden of the added costs, Fannon said.

The forensic exam is just one part of the equation. Id like to see the courts make these people pay restitution for these things, Fannon said.

Fannon said he intends to include the cost of exams required to collect evidence in a restitution request as a part of a criminals sentencing.

4) Did the policy ever impact anyone? (HWC has asked this question before.) Now obviously neither HWC or I want the name of a specific rape victim. We just want to know this actually happened in the hospital that Palin is responsible for. Was an actual (unnamed) rape victim charged for the kit or not? (I have seen evidence that this happened in Alaska and, perhaps, in the part of Alaska near Wasilla, but you can’t blame the mayor of Wasilla for things that happen outside her jurisdiction.

The Wasilla police department seems to have charged the insurance companies, at least. We have no evidence on what it did if the victim did not have insurance or the insurance company would not pay.

5) Could someone place this issue in a larger national context? Consider this pre-Palin post from US News.

It’s tough enough for rape victims to come forward. Now there’s another reason for them to think twice about reporting the crime: They may get stuck with a hefty bill for the rape kit used to collect evidence against their attacker.

Talk about adding insult to injury. In a story last week in the Raleigh News & Observer, reporter Mandy Locke described the situation in North Carolina, where “the vast majority of the 3,000 or so emergency room patients examined for sexual assaults each year shoulder some of the cost of a rape kit test.” A state victims compensation fund intended to help cover the bills is woefully underfunded and had capped payouts for the $1,600 test at $1,000. Since Locke’s story ran, “The cap has been lifted,” says North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety spokesperson Patty McQuillan, though she noted that the legislature would still have to provide the additional funds.

Unless you think that every elected official in North Carolina should be barred from the Vice Presidency, then you have little to complain about Palin (at least on this issue). Or is all of North Carolina “us[ing] State power to disempower women?” Just asking!

6) It seems obvious to me that what we have here is the usual bureaucratic stupidity and health care funding problems. Someone has to pay the nurse who treats the rape victim. Who is it going to be? The obvious place to start is the victim’s insurance company. Does anyone object to that? And (assuming no one does) then we are all Palins since most health care plans have deductibles.

Comments welcome.

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