Democratic lawmakers in California could soon nix a law requiring health providers to report to law enforcement officials when a patient is suspected to be a victim of abuse.
Assembly Bill 1028, authored by Reps. Tina McKinnor and Buffy Wicks, would eliminate the mandate for health care practitioners to report to law enforcement if they suspect a patient has sustained physical injury due to assaultive or abusive behavior.
If the bill is signed into law, it would criminalize health providers for notifying law enforcement about potential patient victimization, reversing the existing law that makes failure to report a misdemeanor.
The bill doesn’t apply to situations where patients have sustained wounds or physical injuries due to self-inflicted acts, firearm-related incidents, child abuse, sexual assault or elder abuse.
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Democrat Reps. Tina McKinnor and Buffy Wicks co-authored a bill to remove mandatory reporting of domestic violence cases. (Fox News)
Proponents of the bill argue it will help victims access help by removing police officers as the first solution. But critics argue it will become another way these types of cases will slip through the cracks, leaving the most vulnerable in the hands of their abusers.
“This is good news for abusers, terrible news for the abused,” Republican Sen. Melissa Melendez said of the bill on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Human traffickers will love this bill.”
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Assembly Bill 1028 would eliminate the mandate for health care practitioners to report to law enforcement if they suspect a patient has sustained physical injury due to assaultive or abusive behavior. (Justin Sullivan/Justin Sullivan)
Instead, as outlined in the bill summary, if health care providers suspect a patient might be a victim, they will offer “brief counseling” before “a warm handoff,” or referral to a local domestic violence advocacy agency.
“Recognizing that abuse survivors often need to access health care and medical treatment apart from police reporting and criminal legal involvement, this bill replaces mandated police reporting by medical professionals with offering connection to survivor services,” the bill states.
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AB 1028 passed the assembly earlier this year and awaits a hearing in the Senate’s public safety committee. Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener, a sponsor of the bill, is a member of the committee.
Six states, including California, have laws that require mandatory reporting for domestic violence or adult abuse cases, often alongside reporting requirements for deadly weapon or illegal activities. Five states require reporting for specific domestic violence situations, while one state exempts abuse victims from its general reporting mandate for certain injuries.