The heat is on for the Governor’s seat in Texas and State Senator Wendy Davis D- Fort Worth is still fighting strong as she held a press conference, Monday July 11, 2014 on the steps of Houston’s City Hall backing up her new commercial ad about Texas rape procedures and her competitor, Attorney General Greg Abbott.
Davis along with colleagues State Representative Senfronia Thompson, City Councilwoman Ellen Cohen, District C and a rape survivor who testified for Davis when introducing Senate Bill 1191 and 1192, Lavinia Masters, spoke about what SB 1636,1191 and 1192 really is in context to everyday life.
“It was a privilege to work with State Senator Davis on SB 1636,” said State Rep. Thomas. “1 in 3 rapes are reported, there aren’t enough designated facilities to treat rape victims and it is a travesty.”
SB 1636 is a bill written by Davis relating to the collection, analysis, and preservation of sexual assault or DNA evidence. In the state of Texas there were close to 18,500 untested kits until State Senator Davis worked her fiscal magic and found $11 million to go back and test the back logs of thousands of violations.
All emergency rooms are required to have personnel who can collect evidence from sexual assault victims as of September 1, 2013 by way of SB 1191. If by chance a victim goes to a medical facility that isn’t equipped to do proper testing and collections, the medical institution has to stabilize the patient and then give the option whether they want to go to a facility that offer the service.
The elected officials used rape victim, Nicole Anderson as their example for why SB 1191 is so important as she drove 50 miles and went to 3 hospitals before she could find a facility that could perform a rape kit on her in Dallas, TX.
The process of vindicating sexual assault victims in Texas, even right here in Houston has proved to be at a turtle’s pace as Councilmember Ellen Cohen, District D confided there were 6,663 untested rape kits, in the city before SB 1192. This bill allows sexual assault victims, the guardian of a victim, or a close relative of a deceased victim rights about the notification of evidence that was collected from their assaults, including when evidence collected during the investigation of the assault is submitted to a crime lab for analysis.
Lavinia Masters was raped at the age of six. A rape kit was performed on her and it was stored for 20 years. After two decades it was tested and the DNA matched for the aggressor but the statute of limitations had ran out and he couldn’t be prosecuted for his crime. Masters did not receive justice.
When Davis introduced these bills, Masters willingly gave her testimony as she did again on the steps of Houston’s City Hall.
“Wendy Davis listens to survivors and she fights for us,” said Masters.
State Senator Davis stepped up to speak with the sun blaring down on her. She thanked her colleagues and praised Masters for her courage. But took no time diving in to say how her legislation helps to protect everyone from sexual predators.
“These bills give us freedom from fear and now they will know justice will be done and on the first try,” said Davis.
She explained the bills and how they work but didn’t forget to bring up how Attorney General Abbott sided against a rape victims lawsuit when he sat as a judge on the Texas Supreme Court. This was the basis of her latest commercial.
In the commercial, which is based on a true story, a woman is sexually assaulted by a door to door salesman who sold Kirby vacuums. When she sued Kirby it went all the way to the Texas Supreme Court where Abbott, solely, voted against the victim, stating it wasn’t Kirby’s fault for not providing proper background checks.
Davis is proving to be a strong contender for the women’s vote in this election, whereas Abbott is known to pull a strong voting base from women through his work with Child Support Services through Attorney General.