NJ Rape Kit Bill Finally Signed

                A bill presented by Sen. Diane Allen(R) and Sen. James Beach (D) of the New Jersey state Senate that would ban rape victims from being billed for their rape kits was passed in the Senate in March and the state Assembly in June. It passed the Senate Unanimously and the Assembly with only one vote against the bill; as Sen. Allen put it: “In no other crime would it even be contemplated that victims receive an invoice for the collection of evidence needed to prosecute the offenders.” The bill clearly has no real reason to oppose it, yet Gov. Chris Christie waited until almost the last moment to sign it; according to a representative it was “under review by his office.”

                Seriously? It took almost two months to “review” a bill that had support from both parties; a bill with simple language that is about three pages long? What was there to review? I just read the bill in its entirety and it took me like 2 ½ minutes. All it does is enforce an already existing protocol. Federal law states that health care agencies must be reimbursed for the cost of a rape kit, and previous NJ policies dictate which agencies are responsible for the payment of it. Due to clerical oversights victims sometimes received the bill instead of the appropriate agencies; this new law puts a stop to that. Confusing right? Apparently for Gov. Christie it was. He has had the bill awaiting his signature since June and only got around to signing it on August 18th.

                His procrastination of signing the bill brought out ire in many of the state’s residents; Sarah Rowley started a petition on change.org which received almost 1000 signatures in less than 72 hours and Feministing blogger, Zerlina posted a piece which blasted Gov. Christie’s inaction. There was also a twitter campaign. This outrage on the part of NJ residents led to a lot media attention including a guest piece on Countdown with Keith Olbermann in which David Shuster pointed out the numerous other bills Christie has found time to sign while continuing to avoid this one.

                It was only after all this that Gov. Christie finally finished “reviewing” this ever so complex bill and on August 18th signed it into law. The law goes into effect immediately. If only twitter campaigns and change.org petitions worked for getting more hot button issues resolved we might be able to get some of the ridiculous abortion restrictions being enacted throughout the country repealed.



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