Topeka Medical facilities that provide care to rape victims would be required to give information about the availability of emergency contraception under a bill considered Tuesday by legislators.
Amber Versola, with the Kansas City metro chapter of the National Organization for Women, said providing information about emergency contraception would prevent the additional trauma to rape victims of a possible pregnancy.
Versola, a rape victim herself 14 years ago when she was 16, said that during her examination, nurses warned her about the possibility of having contracted a sexually transmitted disease but not about pregnancy. She said it was her mother who asked if there was anything to take to avoid pregnancy.
“She was given a prescription for a form of emergency contraception,” Versola told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “If it weren’t for this, I probably wouldn’t have realized that EC existed,” she said.
Emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy if used in a timely manner.
State Rep. Sean Gatewood, D-Topeka, said he believed Senate Bill 91 “was a common ground provision that we can all agree on to potentially prevent unwanted pregnancies.” NOW representatives said approximately 5 percent of rape victims become pregnant as a result of their attack. Sixteen states currently have laws that provide information about emergency contraception as part of the sexual assault examination process, NOW state coordinator Kari Ann Rinker said.
The committee took no action on the bill. No one spoke in opposition to the measure. State Sen. Tim Owens, R-Overland Park, said he hadn’t decided when the committee would work on the bill.
State Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita, asked if the victim, after she has explained to her the availability of emergency contraception, has the choice to take it or not. Gatewood said the victim wouldn’t be required to take emergency contraception. “This doesn’t require anyone to do anything but provide information,” he said.
Supporters of the bill said it would give victims of sexual assault critical information during an emotional time.
“These women were not able to control their rapists’ actions, but they need to know that to some extent they can control what happens to their body almost immediately after,” Versola said.