- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Senate has passed a bill that would allow therapists or counselors in private practice to decline treatment for patients on the basis of “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

The chamber on Wednesday voted 27-5 in favor of the bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Jack Johnson of Franklin.

Opponents argued that counsellors shouldn’t be allowed to deny treatment of people in crisis because they are gay, transgender or practice a different religion.

Sen. Steve Dickerson of Nashville, the lone Republican to vote against the bill, said that as a doctor he would never refuse treatment to anyone. But fellow Republican Sen. Mark Green of Clarksville, another physician, said that he regularly refers patients seeking birth control to another doctor.

The House version is scheduled for a subcommittee vote next week.

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