Thursday, September 11, 2008

Palin and the rape kits

The blogosphere is abuzz with the story that while Palin was Mayor, Wasilla supposedly billed rape victims for their rape kits -- the kit for, and process of, gathering forensic evidence of sexual assault. The story includes some pretty callous quotes from the Police Chief.

I'll insert an UPDATE here: The whole thing is abortion-lobby hysteria. Turns out that there was ONE rape in Wasilla during the time period between Palin becoming mayor and the state law going into effect (requiring local law enforcement to pick up the tab for rape kits). And that victim was not charged for her rape kit. Repeat: Neither Palin herself, not the town of Wasilla on her behalf, nor anybody else on behalf of the city or mayor of Wasilla or its police department, billed any rape victim for a rape kit. Which hasn't kept the abortion lobby from perpetuating the lie. Surprise, surprise, surprise!

Now to resume the original post:

The gut response is to simply say, "Yeah, what else are you going to go off half-cocked with? This one will get debunked along with all the others." In part, that's the gut response simply because the story is so outrageous that it sounds like satire.

A lot of the bloggers also comment on the high rape rate in Alaska, implying that Palin is somehow responsible, but we can just blow that idiocy off as coming from the same people who'd blame Governor Palin for the weather in Alaska if they could find a way to do it.

That leaves us with the facts:

1. Wasilla did have a policy of charging rape victims (or their insurance companies) for rape kits.

2. The police chief, a Palin appointee, opposed the state law that required police departments to pick up the tab for the rape kits.

It leaves me with questions and concerns:

1. When did the policy of doing this start? Had it been in place since the town first got its police force? Was it initiated under Palin? Timeline, please!

2. The goal seemed to be getting the insurance company, rather than the police, to pay for the cost of the rape kit. Which I don't approve of. I'm a Libertarian, a fan of keeping government as small as possible, but one of the few legitimate tasks of government is to investigate crimes and enforce the laws. It's not the job of the insurance companies.

3. Doing the math, there must have either been a LOT of rapes in Wasilla every year, or a LOT of women claiming rape for some reason. (The latter seems unlikely. What would the motive be?) What's up with that? Was this typical of Alaska towns?

4. Were the women actually made to pay, or was the policy there to have the expense of the rape kits on the books in a way that Wasilla could then get reimbursement from another government entity with deeper pockets? (When I ran with a volunteer ambulance company, we billed EVERYBODY and/or their insurance company for ambulance runs, though we knew a lot of the uninsured wouldn't pay. We never went after them for the money, but we needed to have the bills on the books to make the budget work. I don't understand the arcane details of how it all worked, but I'm pointing it out to show that this sort of thing is done, billing people you have no intention of wresting the money out of, because you have to do it to get the money from someplace else.)

It's late and I'm too tired to go into this in any more detail.


Anonymous said...

I agree 100% with your comments about the rape kit. While Palin believes in rape babies, we don't have absolute proof she was in favor of making women pay for rape kits.

Christina Dunigan said...

I suspect that what would happen is that the woman's insurance company would get billed, and if she had no insurance the city would try to make the rapist pay for it but otherwise would either foot the bill or leave the hospital to absorb the expense.

Personally I don't think it's a very satisfactory arrangement but neither is it some humongous scandal.

BTW, what do you mean by "Palin believes in rape babies"? I mean, they exist. They're not like elves or fairies that are open to interpretation and you can or can't believe in, so clearly you mean something else.