JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. State Representative Cora Faith Walker will pre-file legislation for the upcoming 2019 legislative session with the intent of protecting women and their health and addressing the backlog of untested rape kits in Missouri.
Walker says she will be pre-filing two pieces of legislation, one modeled after a bill she filed in the previous legislative session, HB 2462, which dealt with the forensic examinations conducted on the victims of sexual assault and the reported issue of backlogging and the destroying of rape kits.
Recent investigations have shown that dozens of agencies across the country have trashed evidence from such kits in 400 cases before the statute of limitations for the crime has run out, and almost 80 percent of those thrown out were never even tested for DNA evidence.
“The report from recent investigations confirms what many survivors already know; there have been systematic, institutional failures to protect the rights of victims,” Walker, D-Ferguson, said. “Survivors deserve better and we must do better.”
Under her previously filed bill, the victims who had been examined would be given a “Survivor’s Bill of Rights”, with laws ensuring that victims would be given 60 days written notice of plans to destroy any saved evidence kit, the right to request that the evidence be preserved, access to information on the results of the forensic examination, and to be informed of policies and procedures regarding the collection and preservation of such evidence.
The other bill will be similar to the federal Maternal Care Access and Reducing Emergencies (CARE) Act, which seeks to reduce racial disparities in maternal mortality and morbidity. Walker says that for African-American women, the risk of death from pregnancy-related causes is three to four times higher than for that of Caucasian women and that African -American women are twice as likely to suffer from life threatening complications due to pregnancies.
Walker intends to file both bills when the pre-filing session begins on December 3, 2018.
For more questions, call Rep. Walker’s office at 573-751-4726.