TN Passes Controversial Therapist Protection Bill

by Holly Meyer  |  published on April 7, 2016

The state House passed a hotly debated piece of legislation Wednesday that allows counselors and therapists to refuse to see clients whose cases go against their principles.

The bill sponsored by Rep. Dan Howell, R-Georgetown, protects private practice professionals from repercussions, such as a civil lawsuit or criminal action, but requires counselors and therapists to make a referral to someone who will take the case. The full House voted 68-22 in support of the legislation.

But it’s not quite ready to head to Gov. Bill Haslam’s desk. An amendment added by the House changed the bill’s language from “sincerely held religious belief” to “sincerely held principles,” so the legislation heads back to the full Senate for approval. If the Senate doesn’t support the change, representatives from both chambers will have to meet in what’s called a conference committee to discuss a compromise.

Howell closed about an hour’s worth of debate Wednesday morning with an argument that state representatives deserved a chance to weigh in on a change the American Counseling Association made to its code of ethics, since the state adopts the code. Howell said the professional counseling association has overstepped its authority.

  • don

    We need to make a list of these companies backing the sickos & boycott them.

    • georgi

      I agree.

  • sue lenhart

    This law would be essentially no different than similar laws that protect sincerely-religious businesses from providing services/products (example: wedding cakes) to customers who want to violate the businessperson’s sincerely-held religious beliefs with the product/service that they want. I see no reason why professionals such as counselors, doctors, therapists, etc., should not enjoy the same protections for their sincerely-held religious beliefs. I*’m glad that Tennessee has done so, and I hope that the idea spreads to other states, as well. I would welcome it here in my own home state.

  • carpkiller

    Protect the professionals. Yea right.

    • georgi

      protect their god given rights.and I agree with this law.

  • Ken says

    That’s a “no brainer” – No legislation is required (it only gives the “boys something to do). a simple statement – I don’t believe I can help you”. If TN wants to waste the time and money for a “law”. Principle is a less offensive term than Religion. It still may be challenged as an ineffective cover up for Religious Bigotry.

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