Alabama lawmakers moved closer Monday to ending a requirement that makes rape victims pay for the medical exams needed to gather evidence to prosecute rapists.
Speaker Pro Tem Seth Hammett called the policy “A black eye to the state of Alabama,” before the state House voted 100-0 to drop it.
The bill now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to pass. It will allow a victim’s compensation commission to pick up the cost of the medical exams.
Alabama is the only state that requires victims to pick up the cost of the exams, which average $350 but can run as high as $1,200. A few police departments pay hospitals for the work; most do not.
Without the change, Alabama stands to lose its share of $35 million in law enforcement training money available under the 1994 Violence Against Women Act.
The bill was introduced last month and nearly died in the Legislature until rape victims held a news conference last week and Gov. Fob James called on lawmakers to correct “a travesty of justice.”
“I cannot think of anything worse than to require a victim of sexual assault to be forced to pay to prove they were wronged,” James said.