The story that Sarah Palin was making victims of sexual assault pay for their own rape kits has become shorthand for 'See, I told you she's a totally horrible candidate for women." I've heard it quoted back to me over and over again in the last couple of weeks. As much as I agree that she is a totally horrible candidate for women – and other living things, the rape kit story is not what it seems.
Thanks to very thorough debunkings by bloggers Charlie Martin of Explorations and Bob Owens of Confederate Yankee, we can put this bit of nastiness to rest.
First off, the Wasilla police chief, Charlie Fannon, is on record as having tried to bill victims' insurance companies, not the victims themselves, for the rape kits. In other towns in Alaska, hospitals were trying to bill victims, prompting an Alaska state law forbidding the practice. If this practice still seems creepy or exclusive to macho, rough-and-tumble Alaska, well, it happens to be the practice in other states, too, like North Carolina (until recently) and ... Illinois.
And she says in her follow-up:
I think we can all agree that victims should not have to pay for their rape kits. And billing insurance companies is a far from ideal solution. Reimbursing a victim with state money after she's already had to pay out of pocket is even worse. But it's a problem that's hardly been exclusive to Wasilla or Alaska. Fortunately, states have been quick to pass laws against such practices once word gets out.
But the fact remains that this is a nasty and untrue rumor about Sarah Palin that's been circulating for weeks. If you're an Obama supporter who gets frustrated that people still believe he's Muslim or won't put his hand on his heart for the Pledge of Allegiance, you should understand the frustration that Palin supporters feel when this slime is taken at face value.