Committee Shelves California Bill That Would End Mandated Domestic Violence Reporting by Medical Workers

Committee Shelves California Bill That Would End Mandated Domestic Violence Reporting by Medical Workers
Hospital staff members walk down a hall at UCI Medical Center in Orange., Calif., on Dec. 16, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Jill McLaughlin

Legislation to remove mandatory requirements for doctors and other health practitioners to report suspected domestic violence was shelved by a California senate committee on Aug. 11.

Assembly Bill 2790 would remove criminal liability for health care professionals who don’t notify law enforcement when they suspect a patient has been assaulted or abused. Instead, the provider would be required to provide brief counseling and a referral to local or national domestic violence services.

Proposed by Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks (D-Berkeley) and co-authored by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), the bill was “held in submission” by the Senate appropriations committee, meaning it will likely die unless revived before the state legislative session ends at midnight on Aug. 31.

The bill was suspended last week by the committee for lawmakers to consider its fiscal impact on the state budget. However, committee members held off considering the bill this week as they approved other bills under suspension.

The legislation received criticism from domestic violence survivors and some district attorneys.

Domestic violence survivor Joyce Bilyeu, who now serves as deputy director of the Sacramento Regional Family Justice Center in Sacramento, told The Epoch Times she strongly opposed the bill.

“I do not think victims are discouraged from seeking medical attention because of the current reporting requirement,” Bilyeu told The Epoch Times. “If this bill passes, I feel it will make things worse for [the] victim.”

District Attorney Susan Rios of Northern California’s Lassen County said reports from medical workers have been essential in protecting victims by bringing such cases to law enforcement’s attention.

“[I]f this passes, we may never know unless the victim asks for it to be reported … [this is] another measure in place to protect criminals in this state,” Rios said in a Facebook post.
Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.