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New State Law Supports Health Care for Sexual Assault Survivors

July 13, 2022

A state law will ensure that survivors of sexual assault can receive health care while, if they wish to, remaining anonymous.

Governor Tom Wolf signed House Bill 2032 this week following its recent passage by the General Assembly. The measure, sponsored by Representative Meghan Schroeder (R-Bucks), corrects a conflict between two state laws that had the potential to complicate care for sexual assault survivors.

Pennsylvania’s Sexual Assault Testing and Evidence Collection Act allows survivors of sexual violence the right to remain anonymous when seeking medical care, including when participating in a forensic rape exam and having evidence collected, preserved, and tested. But another state law requires health care providers to report details about assault injuries, including information such as the victim’s name.

The legislation, enacted as Act 70 of 2022, clarifies that health care providers do not need to report sexual assault injuries if the survivor requests to remain anonymous unless the patient has suffered a wound injury that caused death, serious bodily injury, or was inflicted by a deadly weapon.

HAP advocated for the bill, noting the need to remove a potential barrier to survivors seeking necessary care.

“Health care providers—particularly those working emergency departments—are put in an untenable position when providing skilled, trauma-informed health care to victims and remaining compliant with professional obligations under the law,” HAP wrote in a letter to lawmakers last month. “It is absolutely critical that these patients receive proper, thorough health care, even if they are not ready to report the crime committed against them.”

More information, contact Heather Tyler, HAP’s vice president, state legislative advocacy.