The American Counseling Association of Iowa and the Iowa Mental Health Counselor’s Association have been collaborating about a number of bills proposed in the Iowa Senate. As of this date, bills such as SF2193 and SF2194 haven’t made it out of committee. These bills were presented as “religious freedom” bills. However, they would only serve to discriminate against various populations and would be a direct conflict of both the ACA and AMHCA Codes of Ethics. IMHCA, ACA of Iowa, along with the national government affairs teams and the Human Rights Campaign, will continue to monitor these bills. We ask that our members continue to monitor proposed bills in the legislature and to be advocates for the profession and the clients that we serve.
Upon review by government affairs specialists and the Human Rights Campaign, it was found that this proposed legislation seeks to and mandates:
• Superseding current law in order to invalidate current LGBTQ marriage in opposition to SCOTUS;
Further limiting marriage in Iowa to one man and one woman as defined by the bill language;
“Religious freedom” of marriage as defined solely by the Christian world view & mandating adherence to the Christian faith by establishing the Christian faith as the basis for legal equality throughout the bill.
• Superseding current law in order to redefine life in opposition to SCOTUS;
Establishing medical, licensed professional, personal, and state exemptions to providing the full range of healthcare by exempting abortion and abortion-related matters by establishing the right to refusal;
• Superseding current law in order to allow for discrimination on the basis of religious difference, defined as broadly as a difference of values, and establishing protections for such acts by imposing a penalty for disciplinary action related to such acts.
Establishing a broad right to refusal of service across the board, including licensed professionals.
Establishing a basis for segregated child welfare practice; stripping LGBTQ and other vulnerable populations deemed in conflict with religious world views of their protections under the law.
Failing to protect the best interest of the child in foster care or adoption practices.
The proposed legislation stands in violation of the ACA and AMHCA codes of ethics by allowing for broad exemptions to anti-discrimination laws within the counseling profession; by failing to consider the best interest of the child; and failing to meet the threshold of best practices by establishing healthcare, including mental health care, services as defined through religious world views rather than as determined by the medical and mental health care field. This bill would cause serious harm to the profession, ACA members, and to the clients who need mental health services the most.
We ask that you continue to monitor the proposed bills in this legislative session and continue to advocate for your clients by contacting your state representatives and senators as these bills come forth.
Richard Stapleton, EdD, LMHC, NCC, ACS, BC-TMH
President – American Counseling Association of Iowa
Courtney Ackerson, LMHC
President – Iowa Mental Health Counselors Association