Written by Meg Rutherford, ELAP Summer Intern
Edited by ELAP staff
Washington state HB 1564 went into effect on July 23, which bans the sale of over-the-counter sexual assault kits.
This new law offers protection to survivors of sexual assault who may have otherwise been taken advantage of by offers of at-home kits. Many survivors may wish for an at-home kit because it feels less invasive than a test conducted by a medical professional, however, at-home kits offer a false sense of safety. Potential DNA evidence collected at home is typically not admissible in court. At-home kits are not likely to provide a survivor with legitimate results, and they also deprive survivors of the benefits of medical care.
HB 1564 bans the sale of any tests which are marketed as “over-the-counter, at-home, or self-collected.”
As described in a Seattle Times article:
“King County Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Emily Petersen said her main concern is the kits are being advertised as a way to collect evidence.”
“‘The last thing we want is for a victim or survivor to decide to report a rape or a sexual assault, and only to find out that the evidence that they collected, stored and that they relied on to be admissible is not in fact, admissible,’ Petersen said.”
HB 1564 passed with bipartisan support in the House and Senate and was signed by the Governor in May.