A couple of times in my life, I have had the close acquaintance of a rape victim. Neither of these forcible rapes was reported to the police. Neither received medical attention. I know one of them was a virgin. In each case, the girl was so emotionally destroyed, she could barely eat for days. In each case, isolation, fear, lack of transportation, and the complete absence of understanding from the people who should have understood, ALL stood in the way of her getting the medical and legal attention she needed.
I say this to underscore how vicious the crime is, and how absolutely raw the victim is rent asunder, in those first precious hours after the attack, when there is any chance of being able to gather evidence that would put the assailant in custody. After all, any rapist one day can be a rapist the next day, too, who knows who, or when, or where. Of course, these being unreported also means the number of actual rapes exceeds the reported statistics. Remember that the next time you read such statistics.
Now I will break a promise. I said I would not discuss candidates, but I will this once, as this story cannot go unreported: Sarah Palin, while mayor of Wasilla AK, hired a chief of police who, for four years, refused to have taxpayer money pay for "rape kits", the test equipment used by emergency rooms to collect evidence needed to prosecute a rape. Instead, he had the victim, or her insurance if she had any, pick up the the $300 to $1,200 per-kit cost. This policy got overturned by a state law in 2000 that forced Wasilla to do that. It was the only city in Alaska that had refused to do so, thus prompting the writing of the law.
NOT to have the police -- and ultimately tax dollars -- pay for collecting criminal evidence is utterly immoral, whatever the crime. You want to recover those costs later, fine, bill the criminal, but up front, it's police work. Palin's chief refused to do this, under her watch, and continued this policy for four years until the state law forced Wasilla to do so.
As if all those other reasons for not getting medical attention do not matter, a rape victim certainly does not need the cost of that kit, beyond the E.R. visit itself, to stand in her way. Note also that 1 in 6 Americans has no health insurance.
I will not discuss Palin's pluses and minuses on anything else except this one thing. She was ultimately in charge here. It is unforgivable. It beggars understanding.
To think that her method of reasoning and decision making might well be sitting in the Oval Office wrenches my gut something awful.
(Some links: 1, 2, 3, original story from 2000.) [links re-verified as active, Dec. 8, 2011]
Update, a day later: She had to have known. She slashed the line item in the city budget by 75% that covered that part of police costs. [link]