Domestic violence bill aims to remove CA doctors' mandated reporting to police to increase patient safety

A new bill about domestic violence is working its way through the state legislature. If passed, the law will only require doctors to report domestic violence cases involving life-threatening injuries to police.

This bill will remove the current requirement that mandates doctors report any suspicion of domestic violence to the police, and doctors will only be required to report if a patient asks them to do it.

"If charges are not pressed, the person can go back home and be at risk. Healthcare providers can be at risk potentially," said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, UCSF Prof. of Medicine. 

State Assembly bill 3127, introduced by Assembly member Tina McKinnor, says it aims to ensure that domestic violence survivors can access healthcare with limited mandated reports to law enforcement. If passed, California doctors will also be required to offer a referral to a local domestic violence program.

"You know, right now, they have to report it if you bring it up in the encounter. If this bill passes, they don’t have to report it to law enforcement, but they can still provide you with a lot of services and advocates that can help you navigate this difficult situation," said Chin-Hong. 

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one of four women and one of seven men will experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Last week, a video surfaced showing music mogul Sean Diddy Combs attacking his then-girlfriend Cassie Ventura in a hotel hallway back in 2016.

"But I want to say the reason we’re still talking about this, is because we have not come to terms with the fact that these are our brothers, our neighbors, our pastors, the people we grew up with, that are actually perpetrating these crimes," said Colsaria Henderson, Executive Director of Next Door Solutions, a domestic violence advocacy agency in San Jose. 

Henderson says being discreet and having a plan before leaving an abusive relationship is vital to a person’s survival.

"In the domestic violence world, one of the things we talk about is, is this a relationship that’s safe to leave. Because for those of us not in an abusive relationship, it might be hard to end a relationship, but it is safe to leave," said Henderson. 

AB 3127 passed in the Assembly and is now in the State Senate. 

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