DENVER (CBS4)– A state House committee has unanimously approved a bill to help victims of rape.
In Colorado, some women actually have to pick up the tab for a hospital exam after they are a victim of sexual violence.
This bill would help pay for the exams for victims who cannot afford it.
Megan Chuhran is a rape victim. She decided to come forward to tell state lawmakers the real cost of being raped– that it wasn’t only emotional but financial as well.
“Even after being raped, even as I was sorting out the what, why, how it could have happened to me, I was still worrying about money,” said Chuhran.
She told a House committee that she was in college, just making ends meet and couldn’t bear the shame of asking someone for money for a hospital exam.
“At 19 I was young, I was scared and I was broke and I was doing my very best to survive after being violated by someone I knew,” said Chuhran.
Federal law requires that rape kits be payed for but that doesn’t cover hospital exams which can run more than $1,000. The patient is billed for that exam.
“The last thing we want is for sex assault victims to feel that they can’t have the evidence collected and they can’t have the urgent treatment they require because they don’t have the money,” said Rep. Daniel Kagan, a Democrat representing Englewood.
Kagan is sponsoring the bill that would set up a state fund to help victims who cannot afford an exam. The Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault believes there are many who fit that bill.
“I think as a state we can do better. I think it’s really important for public safety as well as public health in Colorado that these needs are met,” said Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault spokeswoman Karen Moldvan.
The bill is estimated to cost the state $167,000 a year.
Chuhran believes the cost of not helping survivors of rape is far greater, “I really hope by this bill passing people can access the care they need to start on the road to healing much faster than if they don’t get the help they need.”