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Law & Psychiatry: Regulating Psychotherapy or Restricting Freedom of Speech? California’s Ban on Sexual Orientation Change Efforts
Paul S. Appelbaum, M.D.
Psychiatric Services 2014; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.650102
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Dr. Appelbaum, who is editor of this column, is the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine and Law, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York City (e-mail: psa21@columbia.edu).

Copyright © 2014 by the American Psychiatric Association


California’s new law banning sexual orientation change efforts by licensed therapists for patients under 18 immediately provoked court challenges. Therapists, parents, and patients argued that the statute infringed constitutional rights to freedom of speech and parental rights to select treatments for their children. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected all of these claims in a unanimous decision upholding the law. However, the decision evokes concerns that other forms of psychotherapy could be subject to similar regulation. Tort remedies may provide less intrusive means for discouraging use of ineffective and potentially harmful therapies.

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Cal Bus & Prof Code § 865.1
Welch v Brown, no CIV 2:12-2484 WBS KJN (ED Calif Feb 7, 2013)
Pickup v Brown, no 2:12-CV-02497-KJM-EFB (ED Calif Dec 4, 2012)
Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v Casey, 505 US 833 (1992)
Conant v Walters, 309 F 3d 629 (Ninth Cir 2002)
Wollschlaeger v Farmer, 880 F Supp 2d 1251 (SD Fla 2012)
Pierce v Society of the Sisters, 268 US 510 (1925)
Wisconsin v Yoder, 406 US 205 (1972)
In re McCauley, 565 NE 2d 411 (Mass 1991)
 Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation .  Washington, DC,  American Psychological Association, 2009. Available at www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/therapeutic-response.pdf
Pickup v Brown, nos 12-17681, 13-15023 (Ninth Cir Aug 29, 2013)
National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis v California Board of Psychology, 228 F 3d 1043 (Ninth Cir 2000)
Dolan  M: Ban on therapy to “convert” gay minors upheld. Los Angeles Times, Aug 29, 2013. Available at articles.latimes.com/2013/aug/29/local/la-me-gay-conversion-therapy-20130830
Sherman  P;  McNamara  R: Protecting the speech we hate. New York Times, Oct 9, 2013. Available at www.nytimes.com/2013/10/10/opinion/protecting-the-speech-we-hate.html
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