States map 2015 for blog Written by Don Byrd

The Tennessee legislature has passed a bill that would allow counselors and therapists to deny service to patients if treatment would violate sincerely held principles, including religious beliefs. The bill would not allow such a refusal for patients that pose an imminent danger to themselves or others. According to the American Counseling Association, Tennessee would become the only state in the country with such a law, if enacted.

The Christian Science Monitor reports:

Opponents of the potential law worry that it’s so broad that it would allow therapists to discriminate against patients based on many factors, including race, religion and gender.

Art Terrazas, director of government affairs for the American Counseling Association (ACA), a nonprofit professional organization that calls the bill an “unprecedented attack” on the counseling profession, points out that under this law a therapist opposed to US military policy could refuse to treatment to a veteran with post-traumatic stress syndrome.

You can read a version of the bill here. It was changed with this amendment, which replaced “sincerely held religious beliefs” with “sincerely held principles,” a phrase opponents of the bill have pointed to as particularly vague.