Terri Coles
June 25, 2013

Texas Politician Says Rape Kits Prevent Pregnancy



We can add Texas state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg to the list of politicians who apparently don’t understand how sexual assault investigations work. (Trigger warning: discussion of sexual assault.)

Laubenberg is the sponsor of a bill, approved by the state’s House Republicans yesterday, that would shut down most of the abortion clinics in the state if it’s passed. Senate bill 5 would ban abortion after 20 weeks, require clinic doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and restrict abortions to surgical centers. Opponents of the measure, which include the Texas Medical Association, the Texas Hospital Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, say the bill will virtually ban abortion in the state.

It’s alarming enough the bill could pass despite the opposition of major medical authorities in the state, but a quote from Rep. Laubenberg is particularly alarming. When addressing a proposed amendment to the bill that would make exceptions in cases of rape or incest, she said it was unnecessary because “in the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.”

The most obvious problem with Laubenber’g statement is a fundamental ignorance of what a rape kit is. Rape kits collect physical evidence left behind after a sexual assault that could lead to the perpetrator’s arrest and conviction. The use of a kit has nothing to do with pregnancy prevention or termination.

But another problem is that Laubenberg assumes all sexual assault victims are treated in an emergency room immediately after they’re assaulted, and we know that’s not the case. Some assault victims are prevented by their attackers from seeking medical attention, particularly in cases of domestic abuse or incest. And sadly, RAINN says 54 percent of assaults remain unreported.

The final kick in the teeth? Laubenberg is a member of Texas’ public health committee.

The politicians making decisions about women’s health matters should get their facts straight.