The Louisiana Senate approved legislation that would set up guidelines for how the state handles victims of sexual assault, preventing them from being charged for their own forensic exams.

The legislation has to go back to the House for final approval but won unanimous support in the upper chamber on Tuesday.

“It really changes the game as far as how we deal with sexual assault victims and how we deal with rape cases,” said Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans.

House Bills 143 and 835 were proposed this session, following reports that some sexual assault victims were being billed for their exams.

“It was a dark day for Louisiana when you had rape victims receiving a bill for their exams,” Morrell said. “We don’t want them to ever see the bill.”

Under House Bill 143, some unclaimed gambling winnings will now go to a fund that will cover the costs.

House Bill 835, meanwhile, would bar hospitals and clinics from sending bills to victims for the exams or healthcare services related to sexually-oriented criminal offenses, including testing for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy tests. Billings could go to the Crime Victims Reparations Board.

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