Legislation will improve care, increase access to justice for survivors of sexual violence
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Dave Joyce’s (OH-14) bipartisan legislation to address the nation-wide shortage of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) and improve care for survivors of sexual violence became law. The Supporting Access to Nurse Exams (SANE) Act, which Joyce introduced alongside Congresswoman Deborah Ross (NC-02), was included alongside a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in the government funding bill passed by Congress this week and was signed into law this afternoon by President Biden.
“As a former prosecutor, I know how traumatic it can be for survivors of sexual violence to report their assault to medical professionals and law enforcement,” said Congressman Joyce, a co-chair of the Congressional Nursing Caucus and the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence. “That’s why I introduced the SANE Act to address the nation-wide shortage of certified sexual assault nurse examiners and ensure survivors don’t face unnecessary hurdles to receive an exam from nurses trained to detect, treat, and document injuries caused by an assault. I thank Congresswoman Ross for joining me in this important effort and am glad Congress acted quickly to get it passed. With our bill now signed into law, we can get to work increasing access to SANE-certified nurses in our communities and improving care for survivors of sexual violence.”
“This week, we took long-overdue action to assist and protect survivors of domestic violence by finally reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act,” said Congresswoman Ross. “I’m excited that this package includes the Supporting Access to Nurse Exams Act, which will enable more survivors of sexual assault to receive timely, trauma-informed care. Nurses with specialized expertise can play a crucial role in providing survivors the care and justice they deserve, but many health care facilities do not have the resources necessary to train and retain SANE-certified nurses. Our legislation will address this nationwide shortage and improve vital care for survivors. I’m glad we could accomplish this in a bipartisan way for survivors in North Carolina and across the country.”
“Being a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner is an extraordinarily difficult job. They face emotionally taxing situations while treating and examining people who have just experienced potentially the most traumatic experience of their lives. The Government Accountability Office found that we have a critical shortage of SANEs due to the limited availability of training, weak stakeholder support to pay for training, and low retention rates caused by the acute emotional difficulties that come with being a SANE,” said ANA President Ernest Grant, PHD, RN, FAAN. “The SANE Act will help overcome these challenges and ensure that there are enough nurses to perform this critically important work. I want to applaud Representative Dave Joyce for his leadership on this legislation that will enable more nurses to receive their SANE certification so they can help more patients in their communities.”
“Sexual assault nurse examiners are vital to providing comprehensive medical care to people who have experienced victimization. The SANE Act would be a lifeline to increase the number of SANEs nationwide and support SANE programs and we are confident this legislation will positively impact survivorship and justice in a significant way,” said Jennifer Savitski, MD, FACOG, Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Medical Director of the PATH Center at Cleveland Clinic Akron General.
“We applaud the House for passing the bipartisan FY22 omnibus package, which includes the Supporting Access to Nurse Exams Act and the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act,” said Samantha Cadet, director of federal affairs, appropriations, and national coalitions for RAINN. “Both pieces of legislation will help expand critical access to medical and legal services for survivors of sexual assault, especially those in marginalized and underserved communities. We are grateful to Congressman Joyce and Congresswoman Ross for their efforts to advance these essential bills and are very glad to see them signed into law by the President.”
The SANE Act amends the DNA Sexual Assault Justice Act of 2004 to ensure the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam Grant Program is dedicated to the training, procurement, and retention of SANE-certified nurses. Once amended, the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam grants could be used in the following ways:
- to establish qualified regional SANE training programs;
- to provide full and part time salaries for SANEs, including pediatric SANEs; and
- to increase access to SANEs by otherwise providing training, education, or technical assistance relating to the collection, preservation, analysis, and use of DNA samples and DNA evidence collected by SANEs.
Additionally, the law requires the Attorney General to prioritize grants requested by qualified entities that would increase the local and regional availability of full and part time SANEs in rural and tribal areas, and in areas where there is a health professional shortage or an underserved population.