CMA Protests California Bill
Democrat State Senator Ted W. Lieu introduced Senate Bill 1172 into the California Senate which, if enacted, would ban psychotherapy to help minors dealing with same sex attraction and also heavily regulate even adult patients who seek such therapy. The Catholic Medical Association sent a letter to California Senate Judiciary Committee members, who will vote on the bill on May 8, urging them to reject the bill or to refer it for further study and revision. Read the letter after the break.
Democrat State Senator Ted W. Lieu introduced Senate Bill 1172 into the California Senate which, if enacted, would ban psychotherapy to help minors deal with same sex attraction and also heavily regulate even adult patients who seek such therapy. The Catholic Medical Association (CMA) sent a letter to California Senate Judiciary Committee members, who will vote on the bill on May 8, urging them to reject the bill or to refer it for further study and revision. The text of the CMA’s letter to Committee Chair Noreen Evans can be read below.
The CMA urges its members, and all people of good will, in California to become engaged as citizens and to urge their California legislators to reject this flawed and dangerous legislation.
Hon. Senator Noreen Evans:
The Catholic Medical Association (CMA) is the largest association of Catholic physicians and health-care professionals in the United States, representing over 75 medical specialties, and including over 70 psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychotherapists. The CMA wishes to express its opposition to Senate Bill 1172. We recommend that members of the California State Senate Judiciary Committee vote against the bill or to table or refer the bill for further study and revision.
First, any vote in favor of Senate Bill 1172 is premature, as the bill’s sponsors have provided no reliable evidence of harm from sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) and, indeed, there are no case-controlled studies documenting harm from SOCE. Even the study relied upon by the bill’s supporters states, in relevant part, “The data presented in this study do not provide information on the incidence and prevalence of failure, success, harm, help, or ethical violations in conversion therapy” (Shidlo and Schroeder, 2002, p. 250, emphasis in the original).
Second, Senate Bill 1172, if enacted, would substantially infringe upon a patient’s right to seek and receive treatment, and would substantially interfere with the doctor-patient relationship. The fact that some individuals oppose SOCE, or that some individuals have had unsatisfactory experiences with their therapists, can in no way justify the harms that would result from denying patients their fundamental rights and inserting the state so blatantly into the very fabric of the therapeutic relationship. The requirements for informed consent contained in Senate Bill 1172 are unworkable at best.
Third, Senate Bill 1172, if enacted, would substantially infringe on parental rights, as well as rights of religious freedom. Parents have the right, and have long had their rights respected, to act in the best interests of their minor children in a manner consistent with their religious beliefs and ethical convictions, so long as they do not put the life or safety of their children into imminent danger. Nothing about SOCE, including the fears and complaints of opponents of SOCE, constitutes anything remotely close to putting children in imminent danger. California tolerates a wide range of medical treatments and surgeries, some of them more controversial than others, because of respect for religious beliefs and ethical convictions. California legislators should not single out one particular kind of therapy based on the political opposition of its opponents.
Passage of Senate Bill 1172, without substantial revision, is at best premature and, at worst, a violation of fundamental human rights and fundamental human relationships that have long been respected by federal and state governments—for good reasons. We urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject the bill or to refer the bill for further study and revision.
Maricela P. Moffitt, M.D., M.P.H.
President, Catholic Medical Association