Monthly Archives: June 2020

E-news: Youth criminal justice forum; mask up, WA

June 25th, 2020|

Dear Neighbors,

Over the past weeks, I have attended protests, marches, and rallies all over our district and King County, while wearing my mask and practicing social distancing. I have met with community members impacted by police violence as well as with law enforcement officers, and I have responded to so many of you who have reached out to me. I am listening to the stories, tracking data, and working with my colleagues to craft legislation that reflects your voices. I have been especially inspired and impressed by the sheer volume of young people who have reached out to me, who are standing up for justice, and who are demanding change. I want to continue the conversation with the young people of our district and would like to invite you to attend a youth town hall on criminal justice reform. It will be over Zoom, at 2 pm on July 14. You can sign up here.

King County moves to Phase 2

In Phase 2, social gatherings may be held with five or fewer people outside your household. Restaurants can reopen at less than 50% capacity, and retailers at less than 30% capacity. Businesses must follow state guidelines to ensure the health and safety of employees and customers. These include social distancing, regular hand washing and wearing cloth masks. You can read more about Phase 2 here, and you can find the guidelines for businesses and employees here.

Mask Up, Washington

Despite the progress we have made, we are seeing a worrisome uptick in coronavirus cases across Washington. Recent research suggests that one of the best ways to reduce transmission is by wearing cloth face masks. The masks protect other people from getting the virus from us when we talk, cough or sneeze.

Even if you don’t have symptoms, you could still be a danger to others. Between 20% and 40% of people with COVID-19 don’t show any symptoms but can still spread the virus. Wearing masks in public places helps protect everyone you meet and is a crucial way to allow for safe reopening of economic activity.

That’s why the governor has issued a statewide mandate for mask-wearing in public. There are exemptions for people with some health conditions or disabilities and people who are deaf or hard of hearing. And there are times when you can remove your mask, like when eating at a restaurant. You also do not need to wear a mask when you are alone or only with the members of your household, or when you are outdoors and six feet from other people.

Until a vaccine or cure is developed, masks will be our best defense.

This mask rule is like the speed limits on our roads—it’s about preventing reckless behavior that can hurt others. Please do your part to protect our community.

Sincerely yours,

Sen. Manka Dhingra
45th Legislative District
Deputy Majority Leader

The List: Manka Dhingra

June 24th, 2020|

From 425 Magazine

Always interested in history and politics, Washington State Sen. Manka Dhingra made history as the first person of the Sikh faith ever elected to any state legislature. She took the Eastside’s 45th District position during the 2017 special election, and she founded women’s advocacy organization API Chaya in 1996. Dhingra is a senior deputy prosecuting attorney in King County and an advocate and leader against domestic violence. When she’s not working, she enjoys her Redmond neighborhood, reading, and hanging out with her friends. Keep reading to learn more about this political powerhouse.

FAVORITE PLACES

To Relax Victor’s Celtic Coffee Co.

For Breakfast Village Square Cafe

For Dinner For special occasions, Café Juanita. And if I’m just hanging out with some girlfriends, I love going to The Stone House.

To Be Inspired Farrel-McWhirter Farm Park in Redmond

INSPIRATION BOARD

What Are You Reading? Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, Three Women by Lisa Taddeo, and Dear Girls by Ali Wong

Who Would Play You in a Movie? Either Priyanka Chopra or Mariska Hargitay from Law and Order

Mantra You Live By Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Last Thing You Googled Good takeout near me!

Best Advice You’ve Received The only thing in life we own is our reputation.

Q&A

How does your volunteer work and causes that are important to you inform your work as a state senator?
To me, it all really comes down to our children, like everything else in life. If we really want criminal justice reform long term, you have to make sure that we as a society have a good understanding of the factors that are impacting our children.

What does trauma-informed care look like in terms of the criminal justice system?
It gets down to, “How are we currently responding to individuals who are committing crimes?” I think it’s very important that our jails are doing trauma-informed intakes when people are getting arrested. Our judges should have a grasp on what factors informed this crime, and be able to ask if we can find a way to address those factors with the individual as well as within the broader community. And that is really a lot of what the therapeutic courts did and why they were so successful.

What inspired you to start API Chaya?
When I first moved to Washington for law school, I (had been) working with organizations that served survivors of domestic violence. I reached out to a number of organizations out here and asked them how many Southeast Asian women they serve, and over and over again I heard these agencies say, “We simply don’t see Southeast Asian women, and we don’t think domestic violence is a concern for that community.” And I was like, “No, no, this isn’t right.” … I met all kinds of women who were interested in starting a domestic violence organization specifically for Southeast Asian women.

  • Permalink Gallery

    New law requires consent for pelvic exams on unconscious or anesthesized patients

New law requires consent for pelvic exams on unconscious or anesthesized patients

June 16th, 2020|

From The News Tribune

A new law took effect Thursday that prohibits medical providers from doing pelvic examinations on women without their consent if they will be unconscious or under anesthesia.

It took lawmakers two years to pass SB 5282, in part because they crafted an exception to protect sexual assault victims.

Doctors have been required to get informed consent from patients to perform medical treatment including pelvic exams. But an omission in state law didn’t prohibit them – or medical students practicing under their authority – in cases when women would be unconscious or under anesthesia.

Stephanie Wahlgren, a sexual assault nursing examiner at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham, said she supports the new law.

“It’s important to have informed consent when doing anything genital. As health care providers, it’s our mission and our duty to get informed consent, especially for an exam or treatment being performed if a patient is unconscious or under anesthesia,” said Wahlgren, a member of the legislative council for the Washington State Nurses Association.

Although the medical profession is more diverse today, in the past there was a “paternalistic view that male doctors knew best for their female patients and they didn’t need to get consent before doing an exam while they were unconscious,” said state Sen. Marko Liias, a Lynnwood Democrat who sponsored the bill that became law.

The new law prohibits a medical provider – or a student practicing under his or her authority – to perform a pelvic exam on a patient who is under anesthesia or unconscious.

There are two exceptions.

One is if the patient or the patient’s representative gives consent and the exam is necessary for diagnostic or treatment purposes.

The other is if sexual assault is suspected. In those cases, evidence may be collected if a patient is not capable of consent due to a longer-term medical condition, or if evidence will be lost.

Health care providers who violate the new law are subject to discipline by the Washington Medical Commission that ranges from a fine to loss of their license.

“I am assured by the University of Washington Medical Center that they do not engage in this practice when they train their students,” Liias told a Senate committee in 2019 when he testified for the first time about his bill.

The UW Medical Center has informed patients for decades that residents and students will be part of their care for obstetrical and gynecologic surgery which could include exams under anesthesia, if indicated, and requested consent, said Dr. Barbara Goff, a professor and chair of the UW Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

When the Legislature passed the bill this year, the consent form was changed to specifically highlight that residents and students involved in the clinical care of the patient may do a pelvic examination under anesthesia as part of the surgical procedure and patients can opt out as they could previously, Dr. Goff said.

One of the producers of the show, Lilly Sullivan, explained why she couldn’t interview women who have been examined under anesthesia without their consent.

“These exams don’t become part of a woman’s medical records. They don’t go into their charts at the hospital. And of course, this happens while they’re unconscious. So pretty much, by definition, anyone who’s gone through this will probably never know,” she reported.

THE EVOLUTION OF THE BILL

The first version of Liias’ bill said a health provider could perform a pelvic exam without the consent of a patient who will be anesthesized or unconscious if a court ordered it for the purpose of evidence collection.

That language was removed after Kim Clark, senior attorney for reproductive rights, health and justice at Legal Voice, expressed concern about it. Legal Voice is a nonprofit women’s rights group based in Seattle.

“It is unnecessary because Washington courts do not have the authority to order that a sexual assault survivor undergo medical exams without their consent. The Code of Criminal Procedure does not permit that,” she told lawmakers at a 2019 hearing.

Clark also said providing an exception for court orders is “potentially harmful” because it could discourage women from reporting sexual assaults and “encourages distrust in the medical profession.”

Two Democratic lawmakers from King County, Sen. Manka Dhingra and Rep. Tina Orwall, crafted a new exception for the bill based on the state’s model sexual assault protocol, Liias said.

When the bill was amended earlier this year, Rep. Nicole Macri, D-Seattle, said the provision came at the request of law enforcement and prosecutors.

The goal, she said, was to ensure that evidence could be collected from sexual assault victims who have developmental or other long-term disabilities that prevent them from providing consent.

The new law says health care providers can do a pelvic exam — without the consent of patients if they’re unconscious or under anesthesia – if sexual assault is suspected. In those cases, evidence may be collected if patient is not capable of consent due to a longer-term medical condition, or if evidence will be lost.

Wahlgren, the sexual assault nursing examiner, said informed consent is the “cornerstone” to her work.

“The exception to this rule is when a patient presents to the Emergency Department intubated with a breathing tube and there was a question to the assault being a sexual assault. This is the only time that I collect evidence without an informed consent and it is only if there is no next of kin or spouse to make that decision for us. We do our best to obtain consent from next of kin prior to evidence collection.

“The evidence collection process does not always entail a pelvic examination. It includes taking swabs from the genitals, but the only time our recommended state guidelines encourage a pelvic exam is when there is hemorrhaging from the genital region and/or there was an object used during the sexual assault and there is a possibility of lacerations that need repaired,” she said.

Wahlgren said health care providers refer to it as “assumed consent” if a sexual assault victim is unconscious and evidence must be collected. Law enforcement usually is involved through 911 calls and the transport of an unconscious victim to the hospital in an ambulance.

“We don’t give the evidence over to the police until we get informed consent from the patient,” she said.

Russell Brown, executive director of the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, said the new law balances privacy interests with the need to collect evidence in sexual assault cases.

“I hope this threads the needle appropriately,” he said.

By James Drew

We have work ahead

June 4th, 2020|

Dear Neighbors,

Like you, I am heartbroken by what is going on in our country and our state. In a just world, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery would be alive today. The reality we live with is that the darker your skin color, the more likely you are to suffer violence at the hands of the police. That is not justice.

Like you, I had hoped that Washington had made progress over the last several years to make this kind of injustice less likely here. Washingtonians overwhelmingly passed Initiative 940 in 2018 to make it possible to hold police officers accountable for excessive use of force, and the Legislature unanimously passed legislation in 2019 to affirm its intent and make it more legally workable. The City of Seattle has been working with the US Department of Justice for years under a federal consent decree that has been adding accountability to their law enforcement actions.

But like you, I am horrified to see the aggressive, paramilitary response of the Seattle Police Department to the largely peaceful protests over the past few days. There is no reason for this excessive response, especially given the examples of law enforcement agencies across our state and our country who responded so much better.

I am particularly dismayed because I have worked hard to change the culture of law enforcement, away from being warriors and instead being guardians of our society.

The injustices we are seeing now are a stark reminder that we have a lot more work ahead of us.

Change comes when each and every one of us acknowledges this injustice, grieves for it, and works to dismantle the systems of oppression and racism. The peaceful protests on the Eastside and around our country are a great upwelling of that righteous grief and an important step toward real change.

Our role as elected officials is to carry their message to the halls of the Legislature and change our legal code and culture to help right those wrongs.

As vice chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee, and as the only prosecutor in the Legislature, I am committed to using my position to carrying that banner. Senate Democrats are working on potential legislation in several important areas:

  1. Prohibiting the use of chokeholds.
  2. Prohibiting law enforcement agencies in our state from accepting surplus military equipment.
  3. Requiring the use of body cameras statewide.
  4. Prohibiting law enforcement officers from covering their badge numbers while on duty.
  5. Requiring state collection of data on police use of force.
  6. Strengthening de-escalation and anti-bias training for law enforcement officers.

In the months to come, I will continue listening to communities of color and others disproportionately affected by police use of force. I will continue pushing for their voices to be heard in the halls of power and for the ideas they bring forward for change. I hope you will join me.

Sincerely yours,

Sen. Manka Dhingra
45th Legislative District
Deputy Majority Leader