Monday, August 20, 2012

Let's Recap: Summertime Vetos and Reproductive Rights

 To say this summer has been a busy one for reproductive rights may be
putting it lightly. For those of us working in the field it has felt a bit like a battlefield.

While many were all out celebrating our nation’s freedom, the SC governor was constructing a veto that seemed to add insult to injury for victims of sexual assault. On July 5, Governor Haley released a list of vetoes including Veto 51 that cut $454,000 that was to be given to the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC) to fund rape and sexual assault prevention programs across our state. To make matters worse, she claimed that providing these services to rape and sexual assault victims and their families was a distraction to the overall mission of DHEC. As if victims of rape and sexual assault do not feel isolated enough from society, Nikki Haley made a public statement that the small slice of normal they are given through the services of a victim advocate is nothing but a distraction for the community.

In a press conference held at the office of Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands on Monday, July 16, representatives from both sides of the political sector were present. The message from all of them was clear: rape and sexual assault can affect anyone at anytime no matter one’s race, gender, age or political affiliation. While women are targeted at a much higher rate (1 in 6 women are directly affected), it is estimated that one in every 33 American men will become a victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime [1].

It is imperative that funding to prevent rape and sexual assault be maintained in our state. Sexual assault has the ability to change a person’s life forever. Sexually abused teens are more likely to run away from home, use drugs, and experience psychological changes in the brain [2]. In addition, sexually abused adolescents are more likely to experience a pregnancy than non-abused teens [2]. Sexually abused adolescents are also less likely to use condoms or other forms of contraception [2]. Providing funding to organizations and programs who work around the clock to provide assistance to victims and their families deserve our support.

  I am proud to report that 111 House members and 39 Senate members were able to overturn this veto. It is near impossible for me to put into words how proud and appreciative I am of those House and Senate members who not only understood the importance of funding rape crisis centers, but had the courage to stand up for the victims.

When a person is victimized by sexual assault, the entire community is affected. In order to strengthen our community, we must protect every member.

[1] Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN),
[2] Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2004, 36(3):98-105. Found online:

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