Howard Brown Health Lauds New State Effort Expanding Services for Sexual Assault Survivors
(Chicago, June 5, 2020) – Today, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed SB0557, an amendment to the Sexual Assault Survivors Emergency Treatment Act (SASETA) that expands access to medical forensic exams and evidence collection for survivors of sexual assault. The amendment allows federally qualified health centers like Howard Brown to perform medical forensic exams during a governor-declared state of public health emergency and 90 days after the end of the declaration.
“Howard Brown’s In Power program has, since its inception, worked to expand access to affirming and supportive services for survivors during what can be the most vulnerable moment in their life,” said Paige Baker-Braxton, Program Manager for In Power. “LGBTQ survivors have specific concerns that are best addressed by programs designed with their needs at the forefront. Utilization of our program has increased during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order, and we are relieved to be able to provide even more support for people who experience sexual assault.”
The implementation timeline has not been finalized; more information is coming soon.
In Power is the first LGBTQ-specific sexual assault survivors program in the nation. The new amendment creates access for patients who previously could have evidence collected only at emergency departments, which have been historic places of trauma where patients risk being misgendered, turned away, or not believed because of their gender identity. Howard Brown considers the amendment important for Black and Brown queer and trans survivors, who gain access to sexual assault services in settings that are most prepared to meet their needs. During the public health emergency, the law allows survivors to access necessary medical care and access to evidence collection in their home-healthcare hub with experts in trauma-informed, gender-affirming, and sexual health care. Additionally, in collaboration with Resilience, Howard Brown’s In Power team will be able to connect survivors to ongoing primary care, benefits navigation, transgender healthcare, behavioral health, extensive social services, transportation support, food stability, employment support, etc.
“Survivors need low barrier access to safe, affirming services if they experience a sexual assault, and this amendment greatly expands their options,” said Illinois House Representative and bill sponsor Kelly Cassidy. “I’m excited to continue working on a plan for implementation that centers the needs of survivors’ when they need us most.”
Since 2017, Howard Brown has been actively working with Illinois House Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE) to create the language of the amendment, and has worked closely with the Cook County State’s Attorney Office, Resilience, Illinois Department of Public Health and Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) to determine revisions addressing concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic. Howard Brown has been a key player in working with stakeholders to get this legislation passed through advocacy at the local and state level.
Howard Brown Health sends sincerest thanks to Governor J.B. Pritzker, Illinois House of Representatives sponsor Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Senate sponsor Melinda Bush, ICASA, Attorney General, Cook County State’s Attorney, CAASE, Resilience, YWCA, Swedish Covenant Hospital, and members of the sexual assault and domestic violence advocacy community including Apna Ghar, YWCA Evanston-Northshore, Metropolitan Family Services, and Mujeres Latinas En Accion, who have supported Howard Brown and our commitment to support survivors of sexual assault.
Howard Brown Health exists to eliminate the disparities in healthcare experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through research, education and the provision of services that promote health and wellness. Howard Brown is the largest LGBTQ organization in the Midwest, providing primary and specialty healthcare, social services, and infectious disease screenings to more than 35,000 people each year. In response to the pandemic, Howard Brown has limited services to 8 of its 11 clinic locations and launched telephone and video options for patients to access care via telehealth. Learn more at howardbrown.org.
Erik Roldan, Director of Communications and Marketing