World & Nation

Tennessee therapists can now refuse to treat patients based on religious beliefs

Gerald McCormick, Glen Casada

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) right, and House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada of Franklin signal to colleagues on the House floor in Nashville on April 6 during a debate about a bill to allow counselors to refuse treatment of patients based on personal beliefs. 

(Erik Schelzig / Associated Press)

Tennessee’s Republican governor says he has signed a bill that allows mental health counselors to refuse to treat patients based on the therapist’s religious or personal beliefs.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam told the Associated Press on Wednesday that he signed the bill after talking to numerous counselors, including those who were in favor and those opposed.

The American Counseling Association called the legislation an “unprecedented attack” on the counseling profession and said Tennessee was the only state to ever pass such a law.

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Opponents say the legislation is part of a wave of bills around the nation that legalizes discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.

Supporters say the bill protects the rights of therapists and allows them to refer patients to more appropriate counselors.

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