Don’t Allow Therapists to Refuse Patients Based on Personal Beliefs

Target: Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee

Goal: Do everything possible to overturn a bill that allows counselors to refuse treatment to those who need it based on their personal beliefs.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has signed into law a controversial bill that will allow counselors to refuse treatment to those in need based solely on their personal beliefs. The original language of the bill echoes similar language used in discriminatory bills passed in Indiana and Mississippi, as well as other states.

In response to the passing of the new law, Tennessee’s American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Executive Director Hedy Weinberg stated that the civil rights group is “disappointed that the governor has chosen to sign this troubling bill into law.” The ACLU statement elaborated the Tennessee ACLU’s position that “this measure is rooted in the dangerous misconception that religion can be used as a free pass to discriminate. Allowing counselors to treat some potential clients differently from others based on their personal beliefs defies professional standards and could cause significant harm to vulnerable people. This law is yet another attack on the LGBT community in the wake of marriage equality…”

The bill allowing therapists to defy the ethics associated with their position is a heinous action and a discriminatory one. In support of Tennessee’s mental health community and the Tennessee ACLU’s position on the issue, sign the petition to tell Governor Bill Haslam that this kind of discrimination is intolerable in 2016 and will not be accepted, law or not.


Dear Governor Haslam,

With all due respect, the signing of this law, allowing therapists to discriminate against prospective clients on grounds of their “sincerely held principles,” is an atrocious decision and one that you need to be held accountable. As a mental health professional, it is the job of a therapist to do no harm. Referring prospective clients to other therapists on something so unprofessional and frivolous as their personal convictions spits in the eye of the Hippocratic Oath and violates professional medical ethics in the worst way possible.

It is with this in mind that we urge you to undo this law. The decision to allow doctors the discretion to undermine the ethics of their profession will not be tolerated. This law is bigoted and undermines not only the ability for doctors to ethically practice medicine but also undermines the needs of every Tennessean who will soon be at the mercy of personal beliefs that should remain separated from the mental health profession.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: NY

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