If we want to live under a government with the power to forbid children and their parents from seeing what therapeutic options might be available for unwanted feelings, I guess that’s a conversation that we can have, although I find myself on the side of the ACLU in worrying about giving legislators “wide latitude to ban unpopular medical treatments.” But if we’re going to have this conversation, we should do so with accurate information about what the bans cover, and Linda Borg’s Providence Journal article on Rhode Island’s new ban of “conversion therapy” fails on that count:
The bill makes it illegal in Rhode Island for licensed health care professionals to advertise or engage in conversion therapy for anyone under 18. It does not affect religious counselors or leaders — or adults who choose such a program.
That “does not affect” sentence is just not correct. Read this section of the law:
23-94-4. Prohibition on state funding for conversion therapy. No state funds, nor any funds belonging to a municipality, agency, or political subdivision of this state, shall be expended for the purpose of conducting conversion therapy, referring a person for conversion therapy, health benefits coverage for conversation therapy, or a grant or contract with any entity that conducts conversion therapy or refers individuals for conversion therapy.
This is separate from the section that bans “licensed professionals” from offering such therapy to minors, and it goes much farther. It covers “any entity that conducts… or refers individuals for conversion therapy.” So, while a licensed professional would only lose his or her Rhode Island license if he or she provides the therapy to minors, that professional would lose access to any state or local funds that somebody might complain subsides the therapy for for adults, as well as any “grant or contract” whatsoever, whether related to conversion therapy or not.
This would apply, as well, to any person, group, or organization that refers an adult to such a therapist. An aggressive judiciary could find within this language justification for removing tax exemption from any church that even suggests trying therapy to any church member.
This bill is your supposed representatives using your government to tell you what you must believe about the universe and your very self.