Celebrating a Legislative Victory to Protect Victims of Violence and Abuse

Health Care Decisions Act

On May 25, 2017, Governor Hogan signed the Health Care Decisions Act into law. This law prohibits an individual from serving as a surrogate decision maker or health care agent for a patient if that individual is the subject of a protective order for that patient, or if that individual is the spouse of a patient who has a separation agreement or has filed for divorce.

This legislative victory was, in part, the result of a strong collaboration between the ElderSAFE™ Center and several key community partners, including the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington (JCRC), Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence (MNADV), the Women’s Law Center and the Sexual Assault /Spouse Abuse Resource Center (SARC).

Maryland Delegate Shelly Hettleman and State Senator Delores Kelley sponsored the bill after learning of the dangers of allowing abusers to make medical or financial decisions for their victims. Decisions that in many cases can be life-altering.

This legislation is a vital aspect of protecting all victims of domestic and family violence at every age from the control and potential harm by their abusers. The goal of this law is to prevent an abuser, whether spouse, family member or guardian, from making health care decisions for someone he or she has abused and caused harm.

ElderSAFE Center and JCRC worked hand in hand to provide written and oral testimony before the Maryland legislature and advocate, with the help of our community partners, to ensure successful passage of this legislation. “This law is an important achievement in helping to protect the rights of abused older adults,” said Tovah Kasdin, Director of the ElderSAFE Center. “We will continue to create awareness on elder abuse and advocate for laws that better protect survivors of violence so that they can live a life free of abuse.”

For more information about older adult abuse awareness and other additional resources, visit ElderSAFE Center.

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