Religious Objection Opt-Out For Arkansas Counselors Stalls

Jun 17, 2016

Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A rule that would allow Arkansas counselors to refer patients to another provider over religious objections has been sent back to a subcommittee.

The Arkansas Legislative Council voted Friday to refer the rule with little discussion. State Rep. Andy Davis, co-chair of the Administrative Rules and Regulations Subcommittee, says the rule was not expected to be controversial, "but now that it is, we'll give them 30 more days to look at it."

The rule proposed by the state Board of Examiners and Counseling would allow counselors and therapists to refer a client over "ethical, moral or religious principles" but only after careful consideration and consultation. It also says a patient could not be abandoned.

The rule has sparked concern that lesbian and gay patients could be denied counseling services.