TN Gov signs bill allowing counselors to refuse treatment based - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

TN Gov signs bill allowing counselors to refuse treatment based on religious beliefs

(Source: WMC Action News 5 archives) (Source: WMC Action News 5 archives)

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed a bill allowing counselors to refuse treatment based on religious beliefs.

A version of the bill passed the Senate earlier this month, and the House approved the House Bill 1840 (SB1556) a vote 68-22, along with five amendments for it that change language. In addition to allowing counselors to refuse treatment based on religious beliefs, the bill requires counselors to provide notice of refusal at their practice, and prohibits charging a fee for services refused, and allows counselors not to refuse someone under 18 years old who is seeking counseling as a victim of bullying.

Haslam issued a statement after signing the bill, saying in part:

Although Senate Bill 1556 has received attention for its perceived focus, my job is to look at the actual substance of the legislation. After considerable thought and discussion with counselors both for and against the bill, I have decided to sign Senate Bill 1556. There are two key provisions of this legislation that addressed concerns I had about clients not receiving care. First, the bill clearly states that it ‘shall not apply to a counselor or therapist when an individual seeking or undergoing counseling is in imminent danger of harming themselves or others.’ Secondly, the bill requires that any counselor or therapist who feels they cannot serve a client due to the counselor’s sincerely held principles must coordinate a referral of the client to another counselor or therapist who will provide the counseling or therapy.

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