Spartanburg, SC

New SC bill would give mental health professionals the right to refuse care based on beliefs

Libby-Jane Charleston
The new bill would update an existing lawUnsplash/Nik Shuliahin

Lawmakers in South Carolina are considering a new bill that would allow mental health professionals to deny care based on their beliefs.

The bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Josh Kimbrell of Spartanburg, is updated from an existing law that allows doctors and health care providers to refuse non-emergency procedures based on their religious, moral, ethical, or philosophical beliefs.

It would extend those protections to therapists, psychologists, and licensed counselors.

The bill is considered a response to an ordinance the city of Columbia passed, which bans conversion therapy for minors.

Opponents of the bill believe it will allow professionals to discriminate against people, especially those in the LGBTQ community. They also believe it will make access to mental health care, more difficult.

Melissa Moore, the Lowcountry manager for the Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network, told Live5 News the bill is harmful, as well as broad, and far sweeping.

“It would allow anyone at any level at any time in health care to deny care to a person, so you can imagine what that might look like. For example, a person who needs COVID-related care can be denied that care because they are gay,” Moore said. “We hope our legislators will vote no on this bill and that it will allow people to pay more attention to what’s happening in the legislature, and we need to push our elected officials to do things that help our constituents instead of harming them.”

On Monday, the Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee held a hearing on the bill.
The bill would would extend protections to therapists, psychologists, and licensed counselors.Unsplash/Go to Adrian Swancar's profile Adrian Swancar

Kimbrell started the hearing with an explanation of what the bill will do. He says the bill is not an attack on anybody.

“If someone wants to come out and have a medical practice or mental health practice that affirms LGBTQ youth that is absolutely allowed and legal. No one is after that, I’m not after that,” Kimbrell said. “What has happened is we have seen efforts by cities to ban anybody who disagrees with that particular viewpoint and that’s, in my view, a violation of the first amendment.”

Supporters who spoke during the hearing say the bill protects free speech and gives parents the right to choose the care for their child.

Lawmakers plan to hold another subcommittee hearing later this summer.

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I'm a journalist and author writing across a wide range of topics, including tech, travel, history, business/startups, relationships, beauty & fashion, British royal history, & local stories concerning Charleston, S.C (where I have a long family history on my father's side: hence my surname! ) Former HuffPost Assoc Ed, ABC TV, ATV Beijing correspondent and many more. Author of "Fatal Females." Mother of three boys: I will love them until the Statue of Liberty sits down.


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