If you've been following the story about Sarah Palin's refusal to fund rape kits as mayor of Wasilla, especially given Alaska's status as "rape central USA", you've got to be asking yourself some questions.
For example: why on earth would she do this? What possible set of priorities could someone have to justify this behavior? Surely nobody actually would actively want to pursue a policy that would lead to rapists not getting caught just for that reason alone. There has to be something else behind it.
There is. Mind you, the evidence here is circumstantial, but there's really no other logical alternative, and the conclusion is damning.
Proceed below the fold.
I suppose that when most of us who are fortunate not to have been the victim of sexual assault hear the word "rape kit", we tend to think of it specifically in terms of forensic analysis and examination--DNA collection, trauma, that whole sort of thing.
But rape kits also contain...emergency contraception.
To quote from an Alaska blogger who has provided a firsthand account of the aftermath of a sexual assault in Wasilla:
I sat with a rape victim during the "harvesting of evidence". Mascara smeared eyes stared blankly out from a cave of shame. "We've got swimmers," announced the forensic tech in the lab next door. My friend didn't look surprised. In her 60's, she was still asked if she felt the need for emergency contraception. Surviving the process would have only been compounded and made worse with an itemized bill; victimized twice courtesy of Sarah Palin and the city of Wasilla.
The rape kits that Sarah Palin had a direct role in forcing women to pay for contained emergency contraception.
Back in 2000, Governor Knowles of Alaska signed a bill that required cities in Alaska to pay for rape kits for victims--primarily owing to outrage over Wasilla's practices. As the article indicates, this bill was opposed by the Police Chief of Wasilla:
Wasilla Police Chief Charlie Fannon does not agree with the new legislation, saying the law will require the city and communities to come up with more funds to cover the costs of the forensic exams.
"In the past weve charged the cost of exams to the victims insurance company when possible. I just dont want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer," Fannon said.
Now, if you're really a law-and-order conservative and you're willing to spend a couple of million on legal fees to get a sports complex for your town of 9,000, there's no real reason not to have taxpayers foot the bill for the $14,000 maximum annual cost for rape kits, right? Turns out there is. From the same frontiersman article:
The new bill would also make law enforcement agencies that are investigating a sexual assault responsible for the costs of testing victims for sexually transmitted diseases and emergency contraception. (emphasis mine)
But it gets even better. As our own DemocraticLuntz has reported, the McCain campaign's answer to troopergate is that Palin fired Monegan not because of personal reasons relating to state trooper and former Palin brother-in-law Mike Wooten, but because Monegan lobbied Congress for an earmark that Palin didn't request or approve of. And what was that earmark?
The McCain campaign says it can prove Monegan was fired in July because of insubordination on budget issues
The "last straw," the campaign said, was a trip Monegan planned to Washington in July to seek federal money for investigating and prosecuting sexual assault cases.
In a July 7 e-mail, John Katz, the governor's special counsel, noted two problems with the trip: the governor hadn't agreed the money should be sought, and the request "is out of sequence with our other appropriations requests and could put a strain on the evolving relationship between the Governor and Sen. Stevens."
Now, as you can read in DL's diary linked above, Sarah Palin claimed that she was opposed to forcing rape victims to pay for an evidence-gathering test. DL says that Palin's consistent opposition to getting public funding for rape kits puts the lie to that.
Unfortunately, it doesn't. It's just that Palin's words are very carefully chosen:
Palin spokeswoman Maria Comella said in an e-mail that the governor "does not believe, nor has she ever believed, that rape victims should have to pay for an evidence-gathering test."
"Gov. Palin's position could not be more clear," she said. "To suggest otherwise is a deliberate misrepresentation of her commitment to supporting victims and bringing violent criminals to justice."
Sarah Palin has absolutely no problem with the state paying for evidence gathering. But the problem is that a rape kit is far more than evidence-gathering. A rape kit also tests for STD's and provides emergency contraception at state expense.
The line that Sarah Palin toed was basically this: no way, no how, no public funding at the municipal, state, or federal level for rape kits that contain emergency contraception. But investigation costs, she says? No problem.
And what's so bad about emergency contraception? Well, a lot of radical pro-life groups view emergency contraception as tantamount to abortion on the grounds that it runs the risk of preventing the implantation of a fertilized ovum, which religious nutballs apparently view as the equivalent of murder.
As a matter of fact, the right-wing nutcase online rag WorldNet Daily specifically mentions the "emergency contraception = abortion" line in its article defending Palin about the rape kit controversy. Here's the article byline:
MATTERS OF LIFE AND DEATH
Palin attacked over rape-kit controversy
Alaska law forces taxpayers to fund 'emergency contraception'
as if to question the validity of the term "contraception" in referring to Plan B.
One of the organizations promoting this view is none other than Feminists for Life, which proudly lists the fact right on its frontpage that one of its members, Sarah Palin, is a Vice-Presidential nominee.
The Feminists for Life organization has long maintained (warning: PDF) that emergency contraception is no better than an abortion.
And, of course, how often have you heard the term "taxpayer-funded abortion" as a right-wing talking point? The fact is, one of the main goals of the right wing fundamentalist has been to oppose any government assistance for any program that might provide funding for abortions. This forms the basis of George Bush's so-called Mexico City Policy--rescinded by Clinton and re-enacted by George Bush--forbidding any taxpayer money going to any program that funds pregancy termination, no matter what adverse consequences may result.
In sum: the only possible reason behind Sarah Palin's consistent refusal to fund rape investigation kits with taxpayer money is that they contain emergency contraception, which her religious fundamentalism views as tantamount to an abortion, and she, like George Bush, is a firm believer in the Mexico City policy.
Is there proof? Not in so many words. But Occam's Razor demands that we look for the simplest possible explanation. And it seems like this is it.
(updated to include reference to World Net Daily article I used in the planning of this diary but forgot to include in the original version as supporting evidence.)