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Senate Bill 1352 — Counselors, therapists, principles

Senate Bill 1352 — Counselors, therapists, principles

Parrish Miller
February 19, 2024

Bill Description: Senate Bill 1352 would recognize that counselors and therapists have the right not to provide counseling that conflicts with their sincerely held religious, moral, or ethical principles. 

Rating: +2

Does it give government any new, additional, or expanded power to prohibit, restrict, or regulate activities in the free market? Conversely, does it eliminate or reduce government intervention in the market?

In a free market, interactions between providers and consumers of goods and services would always be voluntary, with no one being compelled to serve another in violation of their beliefs or principles. Under our regulated economy, such freedom of conscience has been deprioritized, and providers are increasingly being forced to act contrary to their sincerely held principles.

Senate Bill 1352 would create Section 54-3416, Idaho Code, which says, "No person engaged in the practice of professional counseling or marriage and family therapy in the state of Idaho shall be required to provide counseling to or facilitate the counseling of a client in support of goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with the sincerely held religious, moral, or ethical principles of the counselor or therapist."

It would further clarify that "the declination to provide or facilitate counseling or therapy as described in subsection (1) of this section shall not be the basis for a civil cause of action; criminal prosecution; or disciplinary action pursuant to section 54-3407, Idaho Code."

This right of conscience would be limited to "conscience-based objections to particular goals, outcomes, or behaviors that may be the objectives of particular types of counseling or therapy." It says, "This section may not be construed to waive or modify any duty a counselor or therapist may have to provide or facilitate other types of counseling or therapy that support goals, outcomes, or behaviors that do not violate the counselor's or therapist's conscience."

To provide some teeth to the protections of this section, the bill would allow for a civil action to "be brought by a counselor or therapist for a violation of any provision of this section." Should a violation be found, the counselor or therapist would be entitled to declaratory or injunctive relief, and to recover the costs of the action and reasonable attorney's fees."


Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?

In addition to supporting the free market, Senate Bill 1352 would recognize and protect a fundamental right to act according to one's conscience, even when engaged in business. Freedom of conscience and freedom of association are critical components of a free market and a free society that respects individual rights. 

Unfortunately, the protections extended by this section would be limited to counselors and therapists. Perhaps, however, this bill could serve as a model for future efforts to more fully recognize and protect freedom of conscience for all market participants in Idaho.


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