"Knowles broke new ground while answering a reporter's question on whether Wasilla forced rape victims to pay for their own forensic tests when Palin was mayor.
True, Knowles said.
Eight years ago, complaints about charging rape victims for medical exams in Wasilla prompted the Alaska Legislature to pass a bill -- signed into law by Knowles -- that banned the practice statewide.
"There was one town in Alaska that was charging victims for this, and that was Wasilla," Knowles said
A May 23, 2000, article in Wasilla's newspaper, The Frontiersman, noted that Alaska State Troopers and most municipal police agencies regularly pay for such exams, which cost between $300 and $1,200 apiece.
"(But) the Wasilla police department does charge the victims of sexual assault for the tests," the newspaper reported.
It also quoted Wasilla Police Chief Charlie Fannon objecting to the law. Fannon was appointed to his position by Palin after her dismissal of the previous police chief. He said it would cost Wasilla $5,000 to $14,000 a year if the city had to foot the bill for rape exams.
"In the past we've charged the cost of exams to the victims' insurance company when possible," Fannon told the newspaper. "I just don't want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer.""
This has already been reported around the blogosphere. It's abhorrent, especially when you note that as mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin had no problem raising money to build a sports center, but drew the line at paying for rape victims' forensic exams.
But there are two points that are worth underscoring. First, this would have been bad enough if it was just a matter of being decent to women who have been raped. But it's not. Unless the police catch the guy in the act, forensic exams provide some of the best evidence against a rapist. Not collecting this evidence means significantly lowering your chances of convicting the man who did it. That means that the people who pay for this idiotic policy are not just the rape victims whose tests are not done, but any women their rapists might go on to rape in the future. Not collecting the evidence that would put rapists behind bars means more rape victims in the future.
You'd think that $5,000 to $14,000 a year would be a small price to pay for putting violent sex offenders behind bars. Apparently, Sarah Palin disagrees.
Second, Alaska had to ban this practice in order to qualify for funding under the Violence Against Women Act, which was, of course, sponsored by Joe Biden:
"SEC. 3262. RAPE EXAM PAYMENTS.
(a) No State or other grantee is entitled to funds under title XXXII of the Violence Against Women Act of 1993 unless the State or other grantee incurs the full cost of forensic medical exams for victims of sexual assault. A State or other grantee does not incur the full medical cost of forensic medical exams if it chooses to reimburse the victim after the fact unless the reimbursement program waives any minimum loss or deductible requirement, provides victim reimbursement within a reasonable time (90 days), permits applications for reimbursement within one year from the date of the exam, and provides information to all subjects of forensic medical exams about how to obtain reimbursement.
(b) Within 90 days after the enactment of this Act, the Director of the Office of Victims of Crime shall propose regulations to implement this section, detailing qualified programs. Such regulations shall specify the type and form of information to be provided victims, including provisions for multilingual information, where appropriate."
One Vice Presidential nominee turned her back on past and future rape victims. Another was looking out for them.
Oh, and guess who voted against the Violence Against Women Act? John McCain. I used to work in battered women's shelters. I knew women whose husbands stabbed them all over with dinner forks, women whose husbands used to asphyxiate them for fun, women whose husbands ran over them four times, backwards and forwards, with a truck, and kids who managed to find the presence of mind to run to the nearest house and call the police while their father was trying to bash their mothers' heads in on the sidewalk -- unfortunately, all real examples. So even without the part about requiring funding for rape exams, that vote makes me very, very, very angry.