ASSEMBLY, No. 2698

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

211th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED MAY 6, 2004

 

 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman REED GUSCIORA

District 15 (Mercer)

Assemblyman NEIL M. COHEN

District 20 (Union)

Assemblyman JOHN F. MCKEON

District 27 (Essex)

Assemblyman JOHN S. WISNIEWSKI

District 19 (Middlesex)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

    Requires certain health care facilities providing care to sexual assault victims to provide information about emergency contraception and the contraceptives upon request.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

    As introduced.

 

(Sponsorship Updated As Of: 5/25/2004)


An Act concerning emergency contraception and sexual assault victims, amending P.L.1985, c.404 and supplementing Title 26 of the Revised Statutes.

 

    Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

    1. (New section) As used in sections 1 through 4 of this act:

    "Emergency care to sexual assault victim" means a medical examination, procedure or service provided by a general hospital or ambulatory care facility to a sexual assault victim following an alleged sexual offense.

    "Emergency contraception" means the provision of a drug or device that prevents pregnancy when taken after intercourse and is approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

    "Medically and factually accurate and objective" means verified or supported by the weight of research conducted in compliance with accepted scientific methods and standards, published in peer-reviewed journals and recognized as accurate and objective by leading professional organizations and agencies with relevant expertise in the field of obstetrics and gynecology.

    "Sexual assault victim" means a person 12 years of age or older who alleges or is alleged to have suffered a personal, physical or psychological injury as a result of a sexual offense.

    "Sexual offense" means sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault as set forth in N.J.S.2C:14-2, criminal sexual contact and aggravated criminal sexual contact as set forth in N.J.S.2C:14-3, fourth degree lewdness as set forth in subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:14-4 and endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child as set forth in N.J.S.2C:24-4.

 

    2. (New section) a. It shall be the standard of care for a general hospital or ambulatory care facility licensed pursuant to P.L.1971, c.136 (C.26:2H-1 et seq.) that provides emergency care to sexual assault victims to:

    (1) provide each sexual assault victim with medically and factually accurate and objective oral and written information, as provided for in subsection b. of this section, about emergency contraception;

    (2) orally inform each sexual assault victim of her option to be provided an emergency contraceptive at the hospital or ambulatory care facility; and

    (3) provide an emergency contraceptive immediately at the hospital or ambulatory care facility to each sexual assault victim who requests it. If the emergency contraceptive is in the form of pills, the provision of the emergency contraceptive shall include the initial dose that the victim may take at the hospital or ambulatory care facility, as well as the follow-up dose that the victim can self-administer later.

    b. The Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, in collaboration with the Director of the Division on Women in the Department of Community Affairs and the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, shall develop, prepare and produce, in quantities sufficient to comply with the purposes of this act, written information relating to emergency contraception for the prevention of pregnancy in sexual assault victims for distribution to and use in all emergency rooms and ambulatory care facilities in the State. The information shall be clearly written and readily comprehensible in a culturally competent manner, as the commissioner, in collaboration with the Division on Women in the Department of Community Affairs and the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, deems necessary to inform a sexual assault victim. The information shall explain the nature of the emergency contraception, the effectiveness of emergency contraception in preventing pregnancy, where emergency contraception can be obtained, and treatment options.

 

    3. (New section) A general hospital or ambulatory care facility shall have written policies and procedures to ensure that all personnel who provide care or information to a sexual assault victim are trained to provide medically and factually accurate and objective information about emergency contraception to a sexual assault victim, and provide that information to a sexual assault victim.

 

    4. (New section) a. The Department of Health and Senior Services shall:

    (1) respond to every complaint of noncompliance of a general hospital or ambulatory care facility with the provisions of this act;

    (2) immediately investigate every complaint it receives regarding the failure of a general hospital or ambulatory care facility to provide services required by this act and determine whether the complaint is substantiated;

    (3) determine the action to be taken to satisfy a substantiated complaint;

    (4) compile the substantiated complaints it receives regarding failure to provide services required by this act and retain the substantiated complaints for at least ten years;

    (5) periodically analyze the substantiated complaints to determine a pattern of failure to provide services pursuant to this act; and

    (6) periodically determine whether a general hospital or ambulatory care facility is complying with the provisions of this act and may utilize all means within its regulatory authority concerning health care facilities to verify a general hospital's or ambulatory care facility's compliance with this act.

    b. If the department determines that a general hospital or ambulatory care facility is not in compliance with the provisions of this act, the department may assess penalties and take other actions against the hospital or facility, in accordance with the provisions of P.L.1971, c.136 (C.26:2H-1 et seq.). Any penalties assessed for noncompliance with the provisions of this act shall be paid to the Department of the Treasury and allocated, on a quarterly basis, to the Division on Women in the Department of Community Affairs for supplemental funding for designated rape crisis centers.

    c. The Commissioner of Health and Senior Services shall prepare an annual report of the substantiated complaints received by the department, the department's findings and any action taken. The report shall be made available to the public.

 

    5. Section 6 of P.L.1985, c.404 (C.52:4B-44) is amended to read as follows:

    6. a. The Attorney General shall, through the Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy in the Division of Criminal Justice in the Department of Law and Public Safety and in consultation with the county prosecutors, promulgate standards for law enforcement agencies to ensure that the rights of crime victims are enforced.

    b. The standards shall require that the Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy in the Division of Criminal Justice and each county prosecutor's office provide the following services upon request for victims and witnesses involved in the prosecution of a case:

    (1) Orientation information about the criminal justice system and the victim's and witness's role in the criminal justice process;

    (2) Notification of any change in the case status and of final disposition;

    (3) Information on crime prevention and on available responses to witness intimidation;

    (4) Information about available services to meet needs resulting from the crime and referrals to service agencies, where appropriate;

    (5) Advance notice of the date, time and place of the defendant's initial appearance before a judicial officer, submission to the court of any plea agreement, the trial and sentencing;

    (6) Advance notice of when presence in court is not needed;

    (7) Advice about available compensation, restitution and other forms of recovery and assistance in applying for government compensation;

    (8) A waiting or reception area separate from the defendant for use during court proceedings;

    (9) An escort or accompaniment for intimidated victims or witnesses during court appearances;

    (10) Information about directions, parking, courthouse and courtroom locations, transportation services and witness fees, in advance of court appearances;

    (11) Assistance for victims and witnesses in meeting special needs when required to make court appearances, such as transportation and child care arrangements;

    (12) Assistance in making travel and lodging arrangements for out-of-State witnesses;

    (13) Notification to employers of victims and witnesses, if cooperation in the investigation or prosecution causes absence from work;

    (14) Notification of the case disposition, including the trial and sentencing;

    (15) Assistance to victims in submitting a written statement to a representative of the county prosecutor's office about the impact of the crime prior to the prosecutor's final decision concerning whether formal charges will be filed;

    (16) Advice to victims about their right to make a statement about the impact of the crime for inclusion in the presentence report or at time of parole consideration, if applicable;

    (17) Notification to victims of the right to make an in-person statement, prior to sentencing, directly to the sentencing court concerning the impact of the crime;

    (18) Expediting the return of property when no longer needed as evidence;

    (19) Advise and counsel, or refer for advice or counseling, victims of sexual assault, or other criminal acts involving a risk of transmission of disease, concerning available medical testing and assist such victims, or refer such victims for assistance, in obtaining appropriate testing, counseling and medical care and in making application to the Victims of Crime Compensation Board for compensation for the costs of such testing, counseling and care;

    (20) Assistance to victims in submitting a written impact statement to a representative of the county prosecutor's office concerning the impact of the crime which shall be considered prior to the prosecutor's accepting a negotiated plea agreement containing recommendations as to sentence and assistance to victims in securing an explanation of the terms of any such agreement and the reasons for the agreement;

    (21) Notification to the victim of the defendant's release from custody which shall include:

    (a) notice of the defendant's escape from custody and return to custody following escape;

    (b) notice of any other release from custody, including placement in an Intensive Supervision Program or other alternative disposition, and any associated conditions of release;

    (c) notice of the filing by an inmate of an application for commutation of sentence pursuant to N.J.S.2A:167-4 and its disposition;

    (d) notice of parole consideration pursuant to provisions of P.L.1979, c.441 (C.30:4-123.45 et seq.); and

    (e) notice of the pending release of an inmate due to expiration of sentence; and

    (22) Interpreting services for victims and witnesses when necessary to assist a victim or witness who is hearing impaired or developmentally disabled as defined in section 3 of P.L.1977, c.82 (C.30:6D-3) to understand questions and frame answers.

    c. In a case involving a victim of aggravated sexual assault or sexual assault as defined in subsection a. or c. of N.J.S.2C:14-2, the Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy or the county prosecutor's office involved in the case shall:

    (1) Notify the victim of the victim's right to obtain an approved serological test for acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) or infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or any other related virus identified as a probable causative agent of AIDS, and assist the victim, or refer the victim for assistance, in obtaining a test and appropriate counseling and medical care;

    (2) Notify the victim of the victim's right to obtain a court order pursuant to subsection a. of section 4 of P.L.1993, c.364 (C.2C:43-2.2) requiring the offender to submit to an approved serological test for acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) or infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or any other related virus identified as a probable causative agent of AIDS in the event that the offender is indicted, formally charged, convicted or adjudicated delinquent;

    (3) Communicate the request of a victim who agrees to seek an order pursuant to subsection a. of section 4 of P.L.1993, c.364 (C.2C:43-2.2) to the prosecutor handling the case and notify the victim or arrange for the victim to be notified of the test result; and

    (4) Assist the victim in applying to the Victims of Crime Compensation Board for compensation for the costs of testing, counseling and medical care.

    d. The Attorney General shall, through the Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy and in consultation with the Commissioner of [the Department of] Health and Senior Services, the Director of the Division of State Police and representatives of providers of sexual assault services, to be designated by the Director of the Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy, coordinate the establishment of standard protocols for the provision of information and services to victims of sexual assault, and shall make such protocols available to victims upon request, except that the provision of information and services with regard to emergency contraception, as defined in section 1 of P.L. , c. (C. )(pending before the Legislature as this bill), shall be in accordance with sections 1 through 4 of P.L. , c. (C. )(pending before the Legislature as this bill),.

(cf: P.L.1996, c.114, s.1)

 

    6. Pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, in consultation with the Director of the Division on Women in the Department of Community Affairs, shall adopt rules and regulations to effectuate the purposes of this act.

 

    7. This act shall take effect on the 90th day after enactment, but the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, in consultation with the Director of the Division on Women in the Department of Community Affairs, may take such anticipatory administrative action in advance as shall be necessary for the implementation of the act.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

    This bill requires general hospitals and ambulatory care facilities licensed pursuant to N.J.S.A.26:2H-1 et seq. (the Health Care Facilities Planning Act), to provide written and oral information about emergency contraception to sexual assault victims receiving emergency care at their facilities, and requires the provision of emergency contraceptives upon request of the sexual assault victim.

    Under the provisions of the bill, it would be the standard of care for a licensed general hospital or ambulatory care facility that provides emergency care to sexual assault victims to:

    -- provide each sexual assault victim with medically and factually accurate and objective oral and written information about emergency contraception;

    -- orally inform each sexual assault victim of her option to be provided an emergency contraceptive at the hospital or ambulatory care facility; and

    -- upon request, provide an emergency contraceptive immediately at the hospital or ambulatory care facility to each sexual assault victim. The bill provides that if the emergency contraceptive is in the form of pills, the provision of the emergency contraceptive shall include the initial dose that may be taken at the hospital or ambulatory care facility as well as the follow-up dose that the sexual assault victim can self-administer later.

    In addition, the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, in collaboration with the Director of the Division on Women in the Department of Community Affairs and the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, would develop, prepare and produce, in quantities sufficient to comply with the bill's purposes, written information relating to emergency contraception for the prevention of pregnancy in sexual assault victims for distribution to and use in all emergency rooms and ambulatory care facilities in the State. The information would be clearly written and readily comprehensible in a culturally competent manner, as the commissioner, in collaboration with the Division on Women in the Department of Community Affairs and the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, deems necessary to inform sexual assault victims. The materials also would explain the nature of the emergency contraception, information about the effectiveness of emergency contraception in preventing pregnancy, where emergency contraception can be obtained, and treatment options.

    The bill also requires a general hospital or ambulatory care facility to have written policies and procedures to ensure that all personnel, who provide care or information to a sexual assault victim, are trained to provide medically and factually accurate and objective information about emergency contraception, and provide that information to a sexual assault victim.

    The bill requires the Department of Health and Senior Services to:

    -- respond to every complaint of noncompliance of a general hospital or ambulatory care facility licensed with the bill's provisions;     -- immediately investigate every complaint it receives regarding the failure of a general hospital or ambulatory care facility to provide services required by the bill and determine whether a complaint is substantiated;

    -- determine the action to be taken to satisfy a substantiated complaint;

    -- compile the substantiated complaints it receives regarding failure to provide the required services and retain these complaints for at least 10 years;

    -- periodically analyze the substantiated complaints to determine a pattern of failure to provide services pursuant to the bill; and

    -- periodically determine whether a general hospital or ambulatory care facility is complying with the bill's provisions and may utilize all means within its regulatory authority to verify the hospital or facility's compliance with the bill.

    If the department determines that a general hospital or ambulatory care facility is not in compliance with the bill's provisions, the department may assess penalties and take other actions against the hospital or facility, in accordance with N.J.S.A.26:2H-1 et seq. Any penalties assessed for noncompliance shall be paid to the Department of the Treasury and allocated, on a quarterly basis, to the Division on Women in the Department of Community Affairs for supplemental funding for designated rape crisis centers.

    The bill requires the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services to prepare an annual report of the substantiated complaints, the department's findings and any action taken. The report would be made available to the public.

    Lastly, the bill amends subsection d. of N.J.S.A.52:4B-44, which concerns the coordination of the establishment of standard protocols for the provision of information and services to sexual assault victims, to provide that the provision of information and services with regard to emergency contraception would be in accordance with the provisions of this bill.