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SPOTLIGHT
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Victims of rape

Published on -4/4/2013, 9:44 AM

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Both houses of the Kansas Legislature have solid majorities that preach the merits of a smaller and less-intrusive government. Gov. Sam Brownback espouses the same.

But when it comes to particular social issues, personal rights and liberties can take a backseat to the "father knows best" philosophy of these same conservative politicians.

On rare occasion, they get it right. Such was the case with House Bill 2252, which Brownback signed into law earlier this week. The legislation eliminates the statute of limitations to prosecute rape and aggravated sodomy cases.

At least two different elements helped shape and ultimately enact the new law.

As Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said: "As technology has improved in areas such as DNA evidence, our ability to successfully prosecute perpetrators has increased. This new law will allow prosecutors and law enforcement agencies to bring these cases forward whenever sufficient evidence is available without an artificial time limit."

The other factor was the common knowledge that many underage Kansans either are victimized by a family member or other trusted acquaintance, or are prevented from reporting the crime by the same. Statistics show that 93 percent of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker.

"That makes it even more difficult," Schmidt said. "When a child leaves the house at, say age 18, in many ways that's when the clock starts running on the child's ability to weigh the consequence of disclosing or to allow the memory to come forward to be disclosed. They're very difficult crimes. This is a big step."

We would agree. And we would applaud the AG for pushing to remove the statue of limitations, legislators for supporting it, and the governor for signing it into law.

Of course, we also can only hope these same victims are not impregnated in the course of these horrific assaults. Because the same legislators and governor are dangerously close to celebrating passage of a sweeping overhaul of the state's abortion law. New restrictions are being introduced, such as not having exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Access to birth control is being further limited, and parental notification remains in place even for minors impregnated by their own parent.

It matters not that such contradictions can't pass a logic test. All it takes is the will of the dominant conservative faction in Topeka and it becomes law.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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