Representative Sally Kern has managed to get a ban on bans of what is called “conversion therapy” out of a House committee. I do not know if she will manage to get it to a vote of the full House.
I published a post yesterday, summarizing those two facts. The resulting conversation has left me confused, which is why I’m writing this post now.
I honestly do not know what “conversion therapy” is, except what I get from the name itself. A year ago, I would have had to vote on this particular piece of legislation. I still react to proposed legislation like a legislator.
My basic belief in these matters is that legislative bodies do more harm than good when they try to make medical therapies illegal. An example would be vacuum aspiration. This therapy is used in elective abortions, and is tainted in most people’s eyes. Even though I am strongly pro life, I would not vote for a piece of legislation making vacuum aspiration illegal. It has other uses, and even if it didn’t, it would not be my place as a legislator to determine its worthiness as a therapy in medical situations.
Every pro life bill I passed was based on the fact that the pregnant woman and the unborn child are both human beings deserving of protections under the law.
I look at the question concerning “conversion therapy” through that lens. I am prejudiced at the outset against laws such as the one that has passed in California outlawing “conversion therapy” for several reasons. First, I do not think that making such a determination is within legislative competence. Second, I believe that the entire discussion about “conversion therapy” is freighted with political activism and outright lies. Second, I believe that this atmosphere of junk thinking and junk science concerning this issue and other issues like it has even infected professional associations.
I do not see how a professional association vote on whether or not something is true is anything more than a political statement. I do not take it seriously.
Now. To get back to the whole issue of conversion therapy. I would, based on the things I’ve said here, be inclined to vote for this bill. However, I would not be, at this juncture, set in concrete about it. I do not know enough about the therapy itself to judge.
That’s why I’m writing this post. I would welcome an intelligent discussion of this whole issue. I don’t, however, want a lot of ranting and raving, accusing and counter-accusing. Attacking individuals does not address the question of whether a particular therapy is in some way so clearly and irrefutably harmful to the public health and safety that it must be made illegal. Attacking individuals sidesteps that whole question and obfuscates facts rather than illumines them.
I’m giving you an inside view into the kind of thinking that goes into legislative votes. Of course, this isn’t always true. If the public is a lynch mob, legislators are going to try to jump out in front of it and make it into a parade. I think that’s what happened in California, which is another reason why I’m chary of the law they passed. I think it was pandering and demagoguery rather than good legislation.
I’m going to back off now and see what bubbles up in the comboxes. If you have something to say that will shed genuine light on this topic, please say it. I would like to know more.