Making Sure Justice is Accessible

Sexual assault in the United States is, unfortunately, a
horrifically commonplace occurrence; indeed, according to RAINN, someone here
is sexually assaulted every 92 seconds. And even worse, evidence collected to
prosecute such awful behavior just sometimes does not hold up muster in court. While
telehealth is unable to stop sexual assault from occurring, it can be used to get
faster medical care for sexual assault victims as well as improve evidence
collection. At least, that is Texas’ hope with a newly enacted piece of
legislation: S.B. 71.
The bill was introduced last November 2018, and Governor Greg Abbott officially
signed it into law on June 4, 2019. S.B. 71, as mHealth Intelligence sums
up, “aims to expand access to care for sexual
assault victims and improve the process for gathering evidence against sexual
assault suspects.”

S.B. 71 creates a statewide telehealth network specifically
for sexual assault cases. The state currently has over 300 sexual assault nurse
examiners (SANEs) operating out of 80 hospitals to meet the needs of the entire
state. Needless to say, most of these SANEs are in urban areas, leaving rural
communities at a disadvantage. S.B. 71 rectifies this lack of access by
creating a “Statewide Telehealth Center for Sexual
Assault Forensic Medical Examination,” which, per mHealth Intelligence, is
“a virtual care platform by which rural and remote health care providers could
access those SANEs for consults.” Texas’ telehealth network mirrors a similar
one that Pennsylvania launched in 2017, the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination
Telehealth (SAFE-T) Center
. Pennsylvania’s
program connects the entire state to SANEs; however, it also designed a program
to train rural and remote providers to become SANEs themselves. So far,
Pennsylvania has seen great success with its program.

It is legislation such as S.B. 71 that reminds us no matter how bad the world might seem, there is still good to be found in it. Though telehealth cannot stop sexual assault, it will certainly help victims receive the medical attention that they need faster, ensure evidence is collected carefully, and train SANEs to testify in court confidently. As Texas Senator Jane Nelson stated in a press release when first introducing SB 71 in November, “[e]very survivor of sexual assault deserves compassionate care and justice—regardless of where they live.” And that is ultimately what this comes down to: compassion and justice. Victims deserve justice. If there is way we can increase the chance of them receiving justice, we should definitely pursue it. That is exactly what Texas did with S.B. 71.

Click here to read the mHealth Intelligence article on Texas’ S.B. 71.  


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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !