WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) yesterday introduced the Supporting Access to Nurse Exams (SANE) Act, which would help clarify and improve an existing grant program to train Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs), specialized nurses who provide forensic sexual assault examinations to rape victims.
“Too often survivors of sexual assault arrive at a hospital only to find there isn’t a nurse available who specializes in the exams needed for rape kits, which are crucial for identifying and bringing a case against their assailants,” said Sen. Cornyn. “By making it easier for nurses to become Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, especially in rural areas, we can ensure victims of sexual violence receive the care they need to seek justice and heal.”
“After a traumatic event, survivors of sexual assault deserve care from qualified nurses who specialize in treating these cases. It’s crucial that every hospital is properly equipped with these trained professionals specialized in the right exams to collect rape kits, which offer victims a choice in pursuing justice in court,” said Sen. Durbin. “With the Supporting Access to Nurse Exams Act, we can provide the necessary trauma-informed training nurses need to offer a safe space and the best care possible to survivors.”
“There is a critical shortage of sexual assault nurses across the country. Nurses are working over a hundred hours a week in some rural areas, and survivors are waiting as long as 12 hours to receive care,” said RAINN Vice President of Public Policy Camille Cooper. “We are incredibly grateful to Senator’s Durbin and Cornyn for their commitment to expanding access to essential, trauma-informed care for sexual assault survivors.”
The SANE Act would help increase access to SANEs in areas lacking them and fund the training of new SANEs, two major issues in providing care to sexual assault survivors. It would encourage the development of high-quality SANE training programs and provide for collaboration between forensic service providers and sexual assault advocates.
The legislation is supported by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN), and the National Task Force to End Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence (NTF).