New Tennessee Bill Allows Mental Health Counselors to Refuse Patients, Because Religion


Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a bill that lets mental health counselors deny treatment to patients depending on the particular counselor's set of personal or religious beliefs.

"As a professional I should have the right to decide if my clients' end goals don't match with my beliefs — I should have the right to say somebody else can better serve them," the Republican governor told the Associated Press. "Lawyers can do that, doctors can do that. Why would we take this one class of professionals and say you can't do that?"

Those who support the legislation believe it protects the rights of mental health counselors, allowing discretion. 

The controversial bill was also met with much criticism, including comments from the American Counseling Association, which called the law an "unprecedented attack," AP reported.

"We're just profoundly disappointed in the governor's decision and very disheartened by the fact that this was even passed by a legislative body anywhere in this country in the 21st century," Art Terrazas, ACA director of governmental affairs, told AP.

Critics also say it unfairly discriminates against members of the LGBT communities, in a similar vein as the controversial "Bathroom Bill" in North Carolina. 

Jason E. Miczek/AP
Read more: Trans Woman Defies North Carolina Bathroom Law — In the Governor's Mansion

h/t Associated Press