Maryland bans controversial at-home rape kits, plans to ramp up resources for survivors

May 20th, 2024

Controversial ‘do-it-yourself’ rape kits are now outlawed in Maryland as Governor Wes Moore signed HB1047/SB949 into law in April.

Under the ban, for profit, commercial companies marketing commercial self-administered sexual assault kits, can no longer sell or distribute those kits in the state. Maryland is the third state to outright ban the kits, while many other states attorneys across the country have issued cease and desists against the company.

Companies producing at-home rape kits claim they "empower survivors" to collect their own DNA evidence from home after the crime. However, leaders, advocates, and experts in the state have countered that the kits are virtually useless and, instead, mislead survivors. 

MCASA's Executive Director, Lisae C. Jordan, Esq., testified in favor of the ban:

“There is a significant gap in our response to survivors, but commercial do-it-yourself rape kits are not the solution to this problem...They are an attempt to generate financial profit by misleading survivors, and they take advantage of a malfunctioning system and use it for purposes of financial exploitation and gain.”

Lawmakers ultimately determined the harm of the kits outweighed any benefits, and overwhelmingly passed the bill to ban their commercial sale and distribution.

Another piece of legislation passed by lawmakers this year aims to address this noted gap in the state’s response to survivors. Not all hospitals are able to provide forensic exams, and sometimes survivors build up the courage to seek care only to be sent elsewhere. SB950/HB1127 authorizes peer-to-peer teleSAFE exams, meaning hospitals without the necessary resources will be able to use telehealth to contact hospitals with qualified forensic nurse examiners who will then walk them through the examination process virtually. 

Both of these bills are critical steps forward in MCASA's efforts to protect survivors of sexual violence in Maryland.

Read MCASA's final legislative report for 2024.

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