Local advocate reacts to new Illinois sexual assault laws

Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 5:27 AM CDT
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QUINCY (WGEM) - Advocates at Quanada in Quincy say sexual assault survivors are better protected after Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker signed two measures into law on Thursday.

One measure, House Bill 5441, changes the state’s criminal code by stating people are unable to give consent while they are intoxicated, even if the accused assaulted didn’t provide the substance to them. It also clarifies that the abuser knew or should have reasonably known that the victim was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

“This bill, now that it has become law, will really give prosecutors more tools to charge cases, to win cases to see more accountability for perpetrators and justice for survivors,” Quanada Executive Director Megan Duesterhaus said.

Duesterhaus said Quanada helped advocate for the passage of the law, through their work with the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, a group of 30 rape crisis centers throughout the state.

The other measure deals with expanding access to medical care for survivors.

It allows survivors to get medical care for 180 days after an assault instead of the previous 90 day window.

It also adds privacy protections as survivors can decline to bill their health insurance provider for emergency care if they are not the primary policyholder.

Duesterhaus said this increases the likelihood of survivors seeking the medical treatment they need.

“That might be things like antibiotics to as a prophylactic against different STI’s, STI testing, they might need some other imaging if there was a strangulation involved in the assault, things like that so very critical care we want to encourage survivors to get and not to have to make a choice between medical care and privacy rights,” she said.

Both laws went into affect immediately.

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