February 15, 2023
Bill Alert: Prohibition of Over-the-Counter Sexual Assault Kits
Updated: Feb. 15, 2023 @ 12:00pm
Over the recent summer break, and early in Fall Quarter, the Associated Students of the University of Washington became aware of a company which was marketing over the counter sexual assault kits to student groups on campus. Following UW Daily investigative reporting, the Association found this company to be problematic and wrote to the WA Attorney General’s office to request an immediate cease and desist against this company. The Association also added a prohibition on the sale of over the counter sexual assault kits to our legislative agenda. The cease and desist letter was swift and took immediate action against this company. Now, this legislation will prohibit the sale or sample offering of ANY over the counter sexual assault kit.
Tack Action: Write to Legislators on the Committee Considering the Bill
In addition to testimony, we need members of the community to write to legislators on the committee.
If you are a Washington resident (just by living on campus, you are represented in the legislature), we need you to email members of the House Community Safety, Justice, and Reentry Committee. We recommend you send emails directly to committee members and their legislative assistants. You can find a list of the committee members HERE. You can find their emails, and their respective legislative assistant’s emails, HERE. Check on the legislation’s website to make sure the legislator you are about to email is not already listed as a co-sponsor, we don’t want to annoy/overwhelm our legislators.
Here are recommended talking points:
- Over the counter sexual assault kits are unlikely to be accepted in a WA court of law as evidence.
- Emily Petersen, the King County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney and Vice Chair of the Special Assault unit, states, “It remains to be seen whether or not the Washington State Patrol crime lab would even test these kits.”
- SANE exams are free of charge to those requesting the exam.
- These over the counter sexual assault kits can be misleading and broadly misinform survivors of sexual assault.
- SANE examiners are specifically specially trained to provide victim and trauma oriented care for sexual assault victims.
- SANE exams connect survivors of sexual assault to local resources and advocates who can help survivors through their healing process. At best, over the counter sexual assault kits provide a list of resources with no personal connection or point of contact/referral.
- The states of Washington, Michigan, and New York have issued cease and desist letters to companies who engage in this practice.
- Over 200 people signed in support of this legislation during its public hearing, including the Washington State Attorney General.
- Any personal story you may have that outlines the potential or real harm these kits have on survivors of sexual assault.
Here is a sample email you can use:
Dear Rep. NAME,
My name is YOUR NAME, I am a student at the University of Washington. I am writing to you today to ask you to pass HB 1564 (the prohibition on over the counter sexual assault kits) out of the House Community Safety, Justice, and Reentry Committee.
Our campus witnessed the impacts of Leda Health, a company who markets these over the counter sexual assault kits, and we saw the subsequent cease and desist letter by the WA Attorney General’s office. This company, and others who engage in this practice, are misleading survivors of sexual assault and providing them with a false sense of support and security. We need to stop this evil, predatory practice: creating a product designed to profit off of vulnerable victims.
This is a priority for students at the University of Washington, across the state, and many of your constituents. We strongly urge you to join the over 200 professional nurses, prosecutors, and students who signed in support of this legislation, including the Attorney General’s office, and help sexual assault survivors across the state.
I look forward to your support,