The Massachussetts Catholic Conference stated: "As an example, a conscientious Catholic, working as a licensed professional, would counsel a minor, heterosexual or homosexual, to abstain from sexual activity. Would this violate the bill's specific prohibition efforts to 'change behaviors'? The language in the definition of the Bill certainly seems to prohibit such counseling."
"The Church's teaching acknowledges that the phenomenon of a person's discomfort with his or her biological sex can be a genuine and complex reality that needs to be addressed by psychological professionals with compassion and honesty," the conference added.
Senator Vinny deMacedo, who did not vote in favor of the bill, said that he does "not support coercive therapies," and that "if there were evidence of these practices taking place in Massachusetts, we would wholeheartedly support banning them."
However, "the vague wording of the legislation provides too much room for interpretation," he added, according to the Boston Globe.
The Massachusetts Family Institute, which has opposed the law from the beginning, issued a statement on their website that they would be pursuing legal action on behalf of families and counselors impacted by the law. The Massachusetts Family Institute said the law was an attack on free speech.
"In the meantime, rest assured that the fight is not over," said the statement. "We are working with local families and counselors and national legal experts to challenge this extraordinarily invasive assault on the rights of parents and the free speech of mental health providers."
The Heritage Foundation's Ryan Anderson, who authored "When Harry Became Sally: Responding To The Transgender Moment," told CNA that he thinks the law is not rooted out of concerns for patient safety, but is meant to prevent people with traditional viewpoints from expressing those views.
"Of course the state has authority to regulate medicine to ensure safety, but that's not what this law is about," said Anderson. "This law imposes an ideological ban because the state disagrees with the viewpoint of certain professionals. It's not targeted at harmful practices, but at particular values."
There is also a bill in the Massachusetts legislature, H.110, that would ban health care providers from attempting to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of adults.
Massachusetts is the 15th state to pass a law banning conversion therapy.
Massachusetts' law contains wording identical to that of a California law passed in 2012.
(Story continues below)
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California's law prohibits any therapy "to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex" among minors.
A 2009 American Psychiatric Association task force recommended that the appropriate response to those with same-sex attraction involves "therapist acceptance, support, and understanding of clients … without imposing a specific sexual orientation identity outcome," and that efforts to change orientation "involve some risk of harm."
The American Psychiatric Association considered homosexuality to be a mental disease until 1973. A former president of the APA said in a 2012 video interview that within the organization, political stances "override any scientific results."