Confidential Address Program for

Reproductive Healthcare Participants - Program Law

 

California Government Code Sections 6215 - 6216



 

 

6215. The Legislature finds and declares the following: (a) Persons working in the reproductive health care field, specifically the provision of terminating a pregnancy, are often subject to harassment, threats, and acts of violence by persons or groups. (b) In 2000, 30 percent of respondents to a Senate Office of Research survey of 172 California reproductive health care providers reported they or their families had been targets of acts of violence by groups that oppose reproductive rights at locations away from their clinics or offices. (c) Persons and groups that oppose reproductive rights attempt to stop the provision of legal reproductive health care services by threatening reproductive health care service providers, clinics, employees, volunteers, and patients. The names, photographs, spouses' names, and home addresses of these providers, employees, volunteers, and patients have been posted on Internet Web sites. From one Web site list that includes personal information of reproductive health care service providers, seven persons have been murdered and 14 have been injured. As of August 5, 2002, there are 78 Californians listed on this site. The threat of violence toward reproductive health care service providers and those who assist them has clearly extended beyond the clinic and into the home. (d) Nationally, between 1992 and 1996, the number of reproductive health care service providers declined by 14 percent. Nearly one out of every four women must travel more than 50 miles to obtain reproductive health care services dealing with the termination of a pregnancy. There exists a fear on the part of physicians to enter the reproductive health care field and to provide reproductive health care services. (e) Reproductive health care services are legal medical procedures. In order to prevent potential acts of violence from being committed against providers, employees, and volunteers who assist in the provision of reproductive health care services and the patients seeking those services, it is necessary for the Legislature to ensure that the home address information of these individuals is kept confidential. (f) The purpose of this chapter is to enable state and local agencies to respond to requests for public records without disclosing the residential location of a reproductive health care services provider, employee, volunteer, or patient, to enable interagency cooperation with the Secretary of State in providing address confidentiality for reproductive health care services providers, employees, volunteers, and patients, and to enable state and local agencies to accept a program participant's use of an address designated by the Secretary of State as a substitute mailing address.

 

6215.1. Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter. (a) "Address" means a residential street address, school address, or work address of an individual, as specified on the individual's application to be a program participant under this chapter. (b) "Domicile" means a place of habitation as defined in Section 349 of the Elections Code. (c) "Reproductive health care services" means health care services relating to the termination of a pregnancy in a reproductive health care services facility. (d) "Reproductive health care services provider, employee, volunteer, or patient" means a person who obtains, provides, or assists, at the request of another person, in obtaining or providing reproductive health care services, or a person who owns or operates a reproductive health care services facility. (e) "Reproductive health care services facility" includes a hospital, an office operated by a licensed physician and surgeon, a licensed clinic, or other licensed health care facility that provides reproductive health care services and includes only the building or structure in which the reproductive health care services are actually provided.

 

6215.2. (a) An adult person, a parent or guardian acting on behalf of a minor, or a guardian acting on behalf of an incapacitated person, who is domiciled in California, may apply to the Secretary of State to have an address designated by the Secretary of State to serve as the person's address or the address of the minor or incapacitated person. An application shall be completed in person at a community-based assistance program designated by the Secretary of State. The application process shall include a requirement that the applicant shall meet with a counselor and receive orientation information about the program. The Secretary of State shall approve an application if it is filed in the manner and on the form prescribed by the Secretary of State and if it contains all of the following: (1) If the applicant alleges that the basis for the application is that the applicant, or the minor or incapacitated person on whose behalf the application is made, is a reproductive health care service provider, employee, or volunteer who is fearful for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family because of his or her affiliation with a reproductive health care services facility, the application shall be accompanied by all of the following: (A) Documentation showing that the individual is to commence employment or is currently employed as a provider or employee at a reproductive health care services facility or is volunteering at a reproductive health care services facility. (B) A certified statement signed by a person authorized by the reproductive health care services facility stating that the facility or any of its providers, employees, volunteers, or patients is or was the target of threats or acts of violence within one year of the date of the application. A person who willfully certifies as true any material matter pursuant to this section which he or she knows to be false is guilty of a misdemeanor. (C) A sworn statement that the applicant fears for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family, or the safety of the minor or incapacitated person on whose behalf the application is made due to his or her affiliation with the reproductive health care services facility providing the declaration described in subparagraph (B). (2) If the applicant alleges that the basis for the application is that the applicant is a reproductive health care services facility volunteer, the application shall, in addition to the documents specified in paragraph (1), be accompanied by reproductive health care services facility documentation showing the length of time the volunteer has committed to working at the facility. (3) If the applicant alleges that the basis of the application is that the applicant, or the minor or incapacitated person on whose behalf the application is made, is a person who is or has been the target of threats or acts of violence because he or she is obtaining or seeking to obtain services at a reproductive health care services facility within one year of the date of the application, the application shall be accompanied by the following: (A) A sworn statement that the applicant has good reason to fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family. (B) Any police, court, or other government agency records or files that show any complaints of the alleged threats or acts of violence. (4) A designation of the Secretary of State as agent for purposes of service of process and for the purpose of receipt of mail. (A) Service on the Secretary of State of any summons, writ, notice, demand, or process shall be made by delivering to the address confidentiality program personnel of the office of the Secretary of State two copies of the summons, writ, notice, demand, or process. (B) If a summons, writ, notice, demand, or process is served on the Secretary of State, the Secretary of State shall immediately cause a copy to be forwarded to the program participant at the address shown on the records of the address confidentiality program so that the summons, writ, notice, demand, or process is received by the program participant within three days of the Secretary of State's having received it. (C) The Secretary of State shall keep a record of all summonses, writs, notices, demands, and processes served upon the Secretary of State under this section and shall record the time of that service and the Secretary of State's action. (D) The office of the Secretary of State and any agent or person employed by the Secretary of State shall be held harmless from any liability in any action brought by any person injured or harmed as a result of the handling of first-class mail on behalf of program participants. (5) The mailing address where the applicant can be contacted by the Secretary of State, and the telephone number or numbers where the applicant can be called by the Secretary of State. (6) The address or addresses that the applicant requests not be disclosed for the reason that disclosure will increase the risk of acts of violence toward the applicant. (7) The signature of the applicant and of any individual or representative of any office designated in writing who assisted in the preparation of the application, and the date on which the applicant signed the application. (b) Applications shall be filed with the office of the Secretary of State. (c) Applications submitted by a reproductive health care services facility, its providers, employees, or volunteers shall be accompanied by payment of a fee to be determined by the Secretary of State. This fee shall not exceed the actual costs of enrolling in the program. In addition, annual fees may also be assessed by the Secretary of State to defray the actual costs of maintaining this program. Annual fees assessed by the Secretary of State shall also be used to reimburse the General Fund for any amounts expended from that fund for the purposes of this chapter. No applicant who is a patient of a reproductive health care services facility shall be required to pay an application fee or the annual fee under this program. (d) The Address Confidentiality for Reproductive Health Care Services Fund is hereby created in the General Fund. Upon appropriation by the Legislature, moneys in the fund are available for the administration of the program established pursuant to this chapter. (e) Upon filing a properly completed application, the Secretary of State shall certify the applicant as a program participant. Applicants, with the exception of reproductive health care services facilities volunteers, shall be certified for four years following the date of filing unless the certification is withdrawn, or invalidated before that date. Reproductive health care services facility volunteers shall be certified until six months from the last date of volunteering with the facility. The Secretary of State shall by rule establish a renewal procedure. A minor program participant, who reaches 18 years of age, may renew as an adult following the renewal procedures established by the Secretary of State. (f) A person who falsely attests in an application that disclosure of the applicant's address would endanger the applicant's safety or the safety of the applicant's family or the minor or incapacitated person on whose behalf the application is made, or who knowingly provides false or incorrect information upon making an application, is guilty of a misdemeanor. A notice shall be printed in bold type and in a conspicuous location on the face of the application informing the applicant of the penalties under this subdivision.

 

6215.3. (a) The Secretary of State shall cancel certification of a program participant who fails to disclose a change in employment status, or termination as a provider or volunteer. (b) Upon termination of a program participant's certification, the Secretary of State shall retain records as follows: (1) Except as provided in subdivision (g) of Section 6215.4 or Section 6215.7, any records or documents pertaining to a program participant shall be held confidential. (2) All records or documents pertaining to a program participant shall be retained for a period of three years after termination of certification and then destroyed without further notice.

 

6215.4. (a) A program participant may withdraw from program participation by submitting to the Secretary of State written notification of withdrawal and his or her current identification card. Certification shall be terminated on the date of receipt of this notification. (b) The Secretary of State may terminate a program participant's certification and invalidate his or her authorization card for any of the following reasons: (1) The program participant's certification term has expired and certification renewal has not been completed. (2) The Secretary of State has determined that false information was used in the application process to qualify as a program participant or that participation in the program is being used as a subterfuge to avoid detection of illegal or criminal activity or apprehension by law enforcement. (3) The program participant no longer resides at the residential address provided to the Secretary of State, and has not provided at least seven days' prior notice in writing of a change in address. (4) A service of process document or mail forwarded to the program participant by the Secretary of State is returned as nondeliverable. (5) The program participant who is a provider, employee, or volunteer fails to disclose a change in employment, or termination as volunteer or provider. (6) The program participant, who reaches 18 years of age during his or her certification term, has not renewed his or her certification within 60 days of him or her reaching 18 years of age. (c) The Secretary of State may refuse to renew a program participant's certification if the adult program participant or the parent or guardian acting on behalf of a minor or incapacitated person has abandoned his or her domicile in this state. (d) If termination is based on any of the reasons under subdivision (b) or (c), the Secretary of State shall send written notification of the intended termination to the program participant. The program participant shall have 30 business days in which to appeal the termination under procedures developed by the Secretary of State. (e) The Secretary of State shall notify in writing the county elections official and authorized personnel of the appropriate county clerk's office, and county recording office of the program participant's certification withdrawal, invalidation, expiration, or termination. (f) Upon receipt of this termination notification, authorized personnel shall transmit to the Secretary of State all appropriate administrative records pertaining to the program participant and the record transmitting agency is no longer responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of a terminated program participant's record. (g) Following termination of program participant certification as a result of paragraph (2) of subdivision (b), the Secretary of State may disclose information contained in the participant's application.

 

6215.5. (a) A program participant may request that state and local agencies use the address designated by the Secretary of State as his or her address. When creating a public record, state and local agencies shall accept the address designated by the Secretary of State as a program participant's substitute address, unless the Secretary of State has determined both of the following: (1) The agency has a bona fide statutory or administrative requirement for the use of the address that would otherwise be confidential under this chapter. (2) This address will be used only for those statutory and administrative purposes and shall not be publicly disseminated. (b) A program participant may request that state and local agencies use the address designated by the Secretary of State as his or her address. When modifying or maintaining a public record, excluding the record of any birth, fetal death, death, or marriage registered under Division 102 (commencing with Section 102100) of the Health and Safety Code, state and local agencies shall accept the address designated by the Secretary of State as a program participant' s substitute address, unless the Secretary of State has determined both of the following: (1) The agency has a bona fide statutory or administrative requirement for the use of the address that would otherwise be confidential under this chapter. (2) This address will be used only for those statutory and administrative purposes and shall not be publicly disseminated. (c) A program participant may use the address designated by the Secretary of State as his or her work address. (d) The office of the Secretary of State shall forward all first-class mail and all mail sent by a governmental agency to the appropriate program participants. The office of the Secretary of State may, in its discretion, refuse to handle or forward packages regardless of size or type of mailing. (e) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), program participants shall comply with the provisions specified in subdivision (d) of Section 1808.21 of the Vehicle Code if requesting suppression of the records maintained by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Program participants shall also comply with all other provisions of the Vehicle Code relating to providing current address information to the department.

 

6215.6. A program participant who is otherwise qualified to vote may seek to register and vote in a confidential manner pursuant to Section 2166.5 of the Elections Code.

 

6215.7. The Secretary of State may not make a program participant's address, other than the address designated by the Secretary of State, available for inspection or copying, except under any of the following circumstances: (a) If requested by a law enforcement agency, to the law enforcement agency. (b) If directed by a court order, to a person identified in the order. (c) If certification has been terminated pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of Section 6215.4.

 

6215.8. The Secretary of State shall designate state and local agencies and nonprofit agencies that may assist persons applying to be program participants. Any assistance and counseling rendered by the office of the Secretary of State or its designees to applicants shall in no way be construed as legal advice.

 

6215.9. The Secretary of State may adopt rules to facilitate the administration of this chapter by state and local agencies. The Secretary of State shall administer this chapter together with and in the same manner as the Address Confidentiality For Victims of Domestic Violence and Stalking (Safe at Home) program.

 

6216. (a) The Secretary of State shall submit to the Legislature, no later than January 10 of each year, a report that includes the total number of applications received for the program established by this chapter. The report shall disclose the number of program participants within each county and shall also describe any allegations of misuse relating to election purposes. (b) The Secretary of State shall commence accepting applications under this program on April 1, 2003. (c) The Secretary of State shall submit to the Legislature by July 1, 2006, a report that includes the total number of pieces of mail forwarded to program participants, the number of program participants during the program's duration, the average length of time a participant remains in the program, and the targeted code changes needed to improve the program's efficiency and cost-effectiveness.


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