In late June, a vital bill to support rape survivors landed on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s desk. The bill, which had strong bipartisan support in both legislative houses, was to bar rape survivors from being charged for their own rape kits — collections of forensic evidence after a sexual assault that can be used in a criminal investigation. It would go into effect immediately upon signing, instantly protecting rape survivors.
June petered out. Then all of July. Then, we come to late August, with the deadline for signing or vetoing the bill coming up on the 25th, still without Christie bothering to take action. His office said the straightforward potential law remained “under review.” A New Jersey resident, Sarah Rowley, decided this week that enough was enough.
Rowley launched a petition on Change.org calling on Gov. Christie not to stick rape victims with the bill — and to sign the legislation already. Within less than 72 hours, after almost 1000 signatures from Change.org members, the drawn-out “reviewing” process was over: Gov. Christie affixed his John Hancock yesterday.
Thanks to action by almost 7,000 Change.org members, if you live in Illinois, you no longer have to worry whether your doctor is a rapist.
Now, maybe this isn’t the first concern that might pop into the standard patient’s head. But the Chicago Tribune revealed that not only did a gynecologist sexually assault multiple patients in his care, a state regulatory board that found him responsible for these heinous acts decided that the just sanction was a nine-month suspension. Then, he could get back in the office, telling unsuspecting women to spread their legs for an exam.
As a woman, thinking of a gynecologist raping vulnerable patients awaiting exam in those awful stirrup, I have to shudder. This is certainly not that action of somebody who adheres to the Hippocratic Oath. Fortunately, the outraged response to this investigation spurred the Illinois state legislature to take action to revoke medical licenses from convicted sex offenders. Then, thousands more Change.org members called upon Gov. Pat Quinn to get moving and sign the law. Last month, he acquiesced to their demands, and the bill to protect patients became law.
Last month, we asked you to take action for no co-pay birth control coverage, as part of a National Women’s Law Center and Planned Parenthood blog carnival putting pressure on Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Now, we can announce that these efforts from Change.org members and across the blogosphere have paid off: yesterday, HHS made the long-awaited and very welcome announcement that birth control will now be entirely covered for women with insurance.
This victory was won by pressure from many organizations and individuals across the country, including petitions on Change.org from CREDO Action and member Augusta Christensen, with thousands pressuring Secretary Sebelius to protect women’s health. This change will significantly increase women’s contraceptive access and ability to prevent unplanned pregnancy. Even better, not only is contraception fully covered, other women’s preventative health services and breastfeeding expenses are now co-pay free as well.
Unfortunately, not all women will reap the benefits of this decision. In fact, for uninsured women who already struggle the most with access to contraception and health services, it doesn’t do them much good at all.