RESOLUTION OF THE PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION SUPPORTING PENNSYLVANIA HOUSE BILL 796, PRINTER'S NO. 885, WHICH WOULD ESTABLISH AN EXCEPTION TO A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL'S DUTY TO REPORT CERTAIN CRIMES COMMITTED AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS BY THEIR ABUSERS

WHEREAS, Representatives Taylor, Hennessey, Sather, et. al., introduced House Bill No. 796, Printer's No. 885, which proposes to amend 18 Pa.C.S. ยง 5106 by creating an exception to a medical professional's duty to report certain crimes committed against domestic violence victims who seek medical treatment for injuries sustained as a result of family violence;

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association strongly supports victims of domestic violence and their families;

WHEREAS, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women and nearly one-third of American women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives;

WHEREAS, in spite of heightened public awareness and law reform efforts aimed at abuse prevention, domestic violence remains a major public health issue;

WHEREAS, it is estimated that 37% of women's emergency room visits are for injuries related to domestic violence;

WHEREAS, H.B. 796 would provide important clarifications to a medical professional's duty to report crimes allegedly committed against domestic violence victims by their abusers;

WHEREAS, H.B. 796 would require medical professionals to report domestic violence incidents only in cases of death, serious bodily injury or if caused by a deadly weapon;

WHEREAS, H.B. 796 would provide an exception to the reporting requirement for other domestic violence crimes for which abused individuals seek treatment;

WHEREAS, victims of domestic violence might avoid medical treatment if, as the law now mandates, medical professionals have an affirmative duty to report to law enforcement authorities, all incidents of abuse to domestic violence victims which result in injury;

WHEREAS, victims should be encouraged to receive medical treatment for injuries inflicted on them by their batterers without fear that that their medical providers will be mandated to report to law enforcement authorities who may take immediate action without their knowledge or consent;

WHEREAS, this chilling effect is already occurring in area hospitals because the law requires medical providers to report all violations of the penal law of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to law enforcement authorities with no exceptions or discretion permitted;

WHEREAS, this proposed law is far superior to the existing statute because it protects the interests of medical professionals and domestic violence victims without compromising safety;

WHEREAS, this proposed law encourages and permits medical providers and victims to discuss the consequences of notifying law enforcement authorities and respect for a domestic violence victims decision about reporting the incident to law enforcement authorities;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association supports enactment of House Bill No. 796, Printer's No. 885, or similar legislation and authorizes the Chancellor to take all necessary steps, including contacting appropriate members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate regarding this Association's support for this legislation.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: SEPTEMBER 20, 2001