On Friday, the Utah House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that would ban the sale of at-home sexual assault testing kits.
Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, sponsored House Bill 168 which would also fine sellers of at-home kits up to $500. She says selling kits to victims of rape is misleading because the kits would not likely to be considered admissible evidence in court.
Several lawmakers voted against the bill, including freshman Representative Nelson Abbott, R-Orem.
“We already have general statutes on the book, both criminal and civil, that prohibit the deceptive marketing of products. So I don’t see a compelling reason or really any reason for the specific prohibition of this kind of item. If a person wants to purchase this for a novelty purpose or a non-law enforcement purpose, they ought to have that right,” he said.
Rep. Marsha Judkins, R-Provo, spoke in support of the bill during floor debate, saying the products might not be false advertising, but still offer false hope to victims.
“It might not say explicitly on the packaging or anything that this could be used in the court of law. But just the name of the kit itself is deceptive,” she said, “and would lead someone who is already feeling emotionally and physically traumatized to think that maybe they could do this themselves and put off going to law enforcement.”
In 2019, some attorneys general from states like New York, North Carolina and Massachusetts sent multiple cease and desists to MeToo Kit, a start-up company that was in process of crowdsourcing funding for DIY sexual assault kits. However, the company, now called Leda Health, is still in the process of developing kits.
The bill passed with a vote of 49 for and 21 against, and now heads to the Senate.
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