Attorney General Lisa Madigan pushing legislation to help sexual assault survivors

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Attorney General Lisa Madigan is stepping up pressure on hospitals to improve the way victims of sexual assault are treated when they first come to an emergency room.

Madigan is calling on lawmakers to pass a bill that would expand the Sexual Assault Survivors Emergency Treatment Act to ensure that all survivors are treated by health care professionals who have been specially trained to conduct forensic examinations of victims.

"It helps not just that survivor in terms of recovery and moving on with their life, but it helps us in law-enforcement in making sure that we have collected the evidence in therefore are able to proceed with the prosecution," Madigan said.

Under the bill hospitals would need to ensure that a sexual assault survivor receives specialized care within 90 minutes of arriving at a hospital.

The legislation would also require ongoing education for emergency room personnel such as physicians, physician assistants and nurses to they are trained to treat victims appropriately.

"The time for this legislation is now, in fact it's long overdue," said State Rep. Ann Williams, (D-Chicago). "If we've learned anything from the #MeToo movement it's that sexual assault impacts women in all communities, of all backgrounds, of all races and every single survivor needs and deserves to be treated with the utmost respect compassion and professionalism.".

"We will do better in Illinois because we have to do better," Madigan said. "I think it should be not just a moral obligation, but, because it hasn't worked the that way, we'll make it a legal obligation."

The Illinois Heath and Hospital Association released a statement, saying:

"The Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA) understands and supports the public policy objectives of this initiative. Due to the acknowledged limited number of certified SANEs currently practicing in Illinois, in order to successfully implement the requirements of this legislation, it will be important to increase training opportunities to significantly broaden the pool of healthcare professionals with the unique qualifications to provide this type of care.

IHA will continue to work collaboratively with stakeholders and policymakers to develop a plan that is workable and achieves the goal we all share of providing the most timely and compassionate care possible."
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