COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina lawmakers are considering a bill to let mental health professionals refuse to provide care that violates their religious beliefs.
The legislation was introduced in response to a new ordinance banning conversion therapy for minors in Columbia, the state’s capital city.
The bill’s sponsor is Josh Kimbrell, a Republican senator from Spartanburg.
He said Monday that the bill protects the free speech rights of therapists and counselors.
But opponents argue the legislation would harm LGBTQ individuals and make health care harder to access for many marginalized and rural South Carolinians.
A panel of lawmakers who heard testimony Monday didn’t take a vote.
They’re planning another hearing later this summer.