Senate Appropriations Committee advances investment in training more nurses to perform forensic examinations that are critical to successful prosecution of rape cases 

Sen. Murray, author of SASCA, has fought to expand survivors’ access to forensic examinations by trained nurse examiners after hearing Seattle resident Leah Griffin’s story 

(Washington, D.C.) –  Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), issued the following statement on advancement of legislation in the Senate Appropriations Committee that includes a new $5 million investment in increasing the number of nurses trained to collect and preserve forensic evidence when survivors present at hospitals.

“When survivors of sexual assault seek care, they should be offered the best information, services, and support available—but too often, they are turned away and denied the evidence they need to get justice. I’m glad Democrats and Republicans were able to work together on a step to help make sure survivors receive the care they need and I hope we can continue working across the aisle on this challenge going forward.” 

Sen. Murray is the author of the Survivors’ Access to Supportive Care Act (SASCA), legislation to expand access to trained sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs). A 2015 GAO report, which Sen. Murray requested, highlighted major gaps in survivors’ access to sexual assault examination services.

Report language on new investment in expanding access to sexual assault nurse examiners:

The Committee recommends $70,000,000 for the Advanced Education Nursing programs, which increase the number of qualified nurses in the workforce by improving nursing education through curriculum and faculty development. The Committee notes that in 2015, approximately 400,000 individuals age 12 or older were reported victims of sexual assault according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.  Studies have shown that exams performed by sexual assault forensic examiners— medical providers trained in collecting and preserving forensic evidence— may result in better physical and mental health care for victims, better evidence collection, and higher prosecution rates. The Committee is concerned that a recent GAO report identified major gaps in access to sexual assault examinations at hospitals nationwide, including a lack of trained sexual assault nurse examiners, or SANEs, whose job is to provide uninterrupted compassionate care and to collect the evidence critical to successful prosecutions. As such, the Committee provides an increase of $5,000,000 to award grants for the clinical training of sexual assault nurse examiners to administer medical forensic examinations and treatments to victims of sexual assault in hospitals, health centers, and other emergency health care service provider settings, including Federally qualified health centers, clinics receiving funding under Title X, and other health care providers as determined appropriate by the Secretary.