A bill by Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) to ease the process for sexual assault victims to receive counseling services passed the Senate Committee on Public Safety unanimously today.
SB 978 will allow medical providers to notify rape counseling centers when a victim is transported to the hospital for a medical evidentiary exam, upon approval by the victim. Under current law, only law enforcement officers can contact counseling centers for victims.
“Victims of violent sexual crimes suffer physical trauma, fear, and an assault on their privacy and dignity,” Senator DeSaulnier said. “We need to reduce as many burdens faced by victims as possible—this bill will make it easier for them to get the counseling services they need. I thank Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley for sponsoring this important effort to protect victims.”
SB 978 allows the hospital to notify the local rape victim counseling center when a victim arrives at the hospital for a medical or evidentiary physical examination, upon approval of the victim. By clarifying that the hospital may initiate counseling services for the victims if they choose, this bill will reaffirm California’s commitment to protecting victim’s rights. A medical provider is often the first point of contact for a rape victim. It will be easier on victims if hospitals have the ability to call a rape crisis center for the victims without going through law enforcement.
SB 978 is sponsored by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley. The bill is also supported by the California District Attorneys Association, the California Police Chiefs Association, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.