Rep. Sara Rasmussen is aghast.
The provision in House Bill 49 that would have removed marriage as a defense against rape was stripped out by the House Democrat-led Majority on Wednesday, just before the majority passed the criminal justice bill over to the Senate.
Rasmussen spoke against taking that part out of the bill while on the House floor, and again today during a Republican Minority press conference.
Rasmussen told the story relayed to her by Standing Together Against Rape, where a woman who had gynecological surgery was home and sleeping with the help of a prescribed drug. She was not supposed to engage in sexual intercourse during her recovery. Her husband penetrated her sexually while she was sleeping and she ended up back in the clinic for further surgery.
He was not prosecuted because he had marriage as a defense for his actions, even though his wife could not consent to sex.
Rasmussen wanted reporters to note this is not just about Alzheimer’s patients who cannot consent to sex, or who have highly variable cognition, and may know their spouse at one moment, but not a few minutes later. This is about women of all ages, she said.
“The Majority said no. But that sounds like a crime and they didn’t want to be tough on that one,” she said.
Rep. Matt Claman said on the House floor that he thought that portion of the bill needed more work because of the variable nature of Alzheimer’s disease. He heads House Judiciary Committee and is one of SB 91’s biggest defenders.
That excuse wasn’t good enough for Rasmussen, who said today, “I won’t stop fighting.”
“This isn’t an issue just of women with Alzheimer’s,” she said, adding she was aware of other cases like the one she described. “This is women, all women.”
Rasmussen said she won’t be able to support HB 49 when it comes back from the Senate if it does not have the provision that protects women from rape within their marriages.
The provision to strengthen protections for women in these circumstances is also a priority of Gov. Michael Dunleavy.