CNOW would like to highlight the work of two of its Women Who Dared honorees—Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx (’18) and Illinois State Representative Kelly Cassidy (’19)—who respectively championed and sponsored a bill supporting survivors of sexual violence during COVID-19. The bill authorizes specially trained staff at Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to provide evidence collection and medical treatment to sexual assault survivors during the pandemic. This amendment to the Sexual Assault Survivors Act provides that an approved FQHC may provide medical forensic services to all sexual assault survivors 13 years old or older who present for medical forensic services in relation to injuries or trauma resulting from a sexual assault during the duration, and 90 days thereafter, of a proclamation issued by the governor declaring a disaster, or a successive proclamation regarding the same disaster, in all 102 counties due to a public health emergency.

The act also provides that under specified circumstances, an FQHC’s areawide sexual assault treatment plan must include a procedure for ensuring a sexual assault survivor in need of medical or surgical services receives the services at the treatment hospital. In an interview with the State Journal Register, Cassidy said, “[T]his bill provides much-needed options for survivors of sexual assault, and it is time-limited, it is specific to this crisis that we’re in, but it is equally critical that we ensure that these survivors have access to services.” We applaud our Women Who Dared, who continue to lead and inspire us through their dedicated public service.