Don’t punish crime victims, witnesses

Don’t punish crime victims, witnesses

January 4, 2014

We applaud Megan Guza of the Point Park News Service for her article about the difficulties women and men face when reporting domestic violence, which appeared in the Dec. 28 edition of the Observer-Reporter. The article highlighted an area of critical concern for women’s health advocates: Municipal ordinances that endanger domestic violence victims.

A bill to put limits on ordinances that punish crime victims and witnesses for calling the police too often is likely to come before the House of Representatives in January. State Rep. Todd Stephens, of Montgomery County, sponsored House Bill 1796, which prohibits municipalities from enacting and enforcing these so-called “disruptive properties” ordinances that put victims at risk by limiting their ability to reach out for help.

House Bill 1796 is part of the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health, a comprehensive package of legislation aimed at providing commonsense solutions to the very real problems facing women in our state. The agenda, which will roll out in phases over the next several months, was introduced by members of the Women’s Health Caucus, a bipartisan group of Pennsylvania legislators seeking to advance women’s health and rights. These issues – safety, economic opportunity, and basic health care – are fundamental to women’s health.

It’s time that we examine women’s health comprehensively. House Bill 1796 would remedy some of the problems reported in Guza’s article. We’re hopeful that the General Assembly will give serious consideration to all the initiatives raised in the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health.

Dan Frankel

Judy Schwank

Chuck McIlhinney


Dan Frankel is a representative for the state’s 23rd Legislative District, Judy Schwank is a senator from the state’s 11th Senatorial District and Chuck McIlhinney is a senator from the state’s 10th Senatorial District. They are co-chairs of the Legislature’s Women’s Health Caucus.


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