Tell Illinois Lawmakers That Rapists Shouldn't Be Doctors
  • Petitioned Illinois Governor

This petition was delivered to:

Illinois Governor
Gov. Patrick Quinn

Tell Illinois Lawmakers That Rapists Shouldn't Be Doctors

    1. Alex DiBranco
    2. Petition by

      Alex DiBranco

      New York, NY

It seems like a no-brainer: a doctor who sexually assaults his patients should have his license permanently revoked. But Illinois lawmakers are just starting to think that maybe they shouldn't let rapists be gynecologists.

After a Chicago Tribune series called attention to the massive failure to protect patients against known sexual offenders in the doctor's office earlier this year, Illinois state legislators have been shocked and shamed into coming up with bills to address this glaring problem.

The case that really set the wheels in motion involved Chicago gynecologist Bruce Smith, who was permitted to keep poking around in women's genitalia for nine years after being accused of raping an eight-month-pregnant patient by holding her down in stirrups (his DNA matches her rape kit and he was finally brought to trial this year). During the years following that rape, he managed to rack up sexual assault or harassment complaints from another seven women.

Yet when the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation finally got around to taking action in 2009, they suspended his license for a mere nine months: the administrative judge, Michael Lyons, wouldn't even add a few more months because the department hadn't proved Smith performed an unwanted tubal ligation. Sure, Lyon determined that the doc had sexual assaulted or harassed three women, but that alone hardly warrants a whole year suspension.

A woman's gynecologist is one of the last people she wants to worry about being a rapist: she's already permitting herself to be put in an extremely vulnerable, exposed position, and that requires trust in her doctor. While allowing any doctor with a history of sexual assault or misconduct against a patient strikes me as unacceptable, there's a special kind of horror knowing that your gynecologist could have raped other patients and been back at the exam table nine months later.

A handful of potential pieces of legislation are being considered by various Illinois lawmakers; unfortunately, most are inadequate.

The most promising legislation to date was introduced by State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo): his bill would "mandate revocation in the cases of doctors convicted of sexual assault or battery of a patient, and not just those involving felonies." Now, as long as that's a permanent revocation, we're getting somewhere. Don't forget to require that sexual assault/harassment complaints be investigated and addressed in a timely manner, and provide the resources to do so.

Tell Illinois state lawmakers that rapists have no place practicing medicine.

Photo credit: Tess Watson

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 6,000 signatures
    2. Governor's Signature Would Stop Rapists From Being Doctors in Illinois

      Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      With the help of 1600 members, an Illinois bill that would revoke the medical license of a convicted sex offender has passed the state legislature. Just one thing stands between it and becoming law: the signature of Gov. Pat Quinn.

    3. Reached 1 signatures
    4. Illinois Legislature Takes Steps to Prevent a Rapist From Being Your Gyno

      Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      Going to the gynecologist is hardly on most people's list of "favorite things to do." But what if the doctor you're opening wide to (down south) is a sex offender -- what if, in fact, he's raped other patients? Worst. Nightmare. Ever.
      But that's just...

    5. Alex DiBranco
      Petition Organizer

      Legislation to ban sex offenders from getting licenses passes House


    Reasons for signing

    • Laurelle Hafen PROVO, UT
      • about 3 years ago

      I am horrified to think that my next visit to my OB/GYN might involve rape. It's hard enough to be in such a vulnerable position even with a doctor I trust; I don't want to be wondering if he's been accused of sexual assault in the past, or if anyone would listen if something like that happened to me. No woman should have to endure even that sort of worry, let alone the sure knowledge that her doctor has done such a thing and gotten away with it.

    • Pauline Trumpi JOLIET IL, IL
      • about 3 years ago

      When I was in my early twenties, I was raped by my doctor. Authorities told me *you cannot take away someone's livelihood.* The doctor did surrender his license, but the medical examining board (MEB) returned the doctor's license five weeks after he surrendered it. The MEB kept the doctor's crime quiet; nothing was reported to the newspaper, and the public never learned about the rape. I felt very vulnerable at the time; but years later, I wrote a book, DOCTORS WHO RAPE: MALPRACTICE AND MISOGYNY. It was published by Schenkman Books and is sold at Writing the book helped me resolve the trauma and *anger.* In the book, I note the laxity of the DFPR and the Illinois Medical Licensing Board --and of other states as well. Years have passed and doctors continue to get away with rape!

      • about 3 years ago

      Governor...what's to think about? Your responsibility is crystal clear.

    • Amanda Schrems DEKALB, IL
      • about 3 years ago

      I am an advocate that works with victims of sexual assault and sexual abuse. I am appalled that doctors who have been accused of rape are being allowed to continue their practice. They should be pulled from work without pay until an investigation has been completed, and if arrested and charged they should have their license taken away and be fired and placed on the sex offender list. Please, do not allow doctors who rape or are accused to rape to practice medicine.

    • Nicole Liddle DEKALB, IL
      • about 3 years ago

      I can't find this anywhere else, but according to the Illinois General Assembly's website, the governor approved this piece of legislation (house bill 1271) on July 21st:


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