SC bill allows mental health professionals to refuse care based on beliefs

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

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Josh Kimbrell of Spartanburg, would be an update to 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, says 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.

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