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A retired physician from Waterloo warned the city council on Monday about the potential of lawsuits and increased difficulty to recruit physicians due to the city’s counseling ban. The city banned counseling for minors as it relates to potential confusion regarding sexual orientation or gender identity.

Dr. Michael Peters, who is retired, practiced in the area for more than 30 years. He said he was asked to and speaking on behalf of the medical community. He also said he researched many laws and ordinances from other states and cities and also obtained legal advice from attorneys.

He noted 21 states have conversion therapy bans and 24 states have no state law or do not allow local bans. All 21 states with bans have bans that target licensed mental health providers only.

While the Supreme Court hasn’t ruled on such bans yet, it is considering hearing a current case from Washington State.

Peters said he respects everyone’s opinion, but expressed concern that both sides are not being presented by the city. He said the city doesn’t have the legal authority to monitor physicians for the way they practice medicine. Instead, that is the duty of the state medical board.

Because Iowa has no state law regarding conversion counseling, he said they are exposing the city to a lawsuit.

Recruiting physicians is already difficult, but Peters said when doctors are told how to practice or restricted, they often leave one situation and find a more favorable environment.

“When any one of us goes to the doctor for medical treatment, we expect to be informed of the risks and benefits involving medical care,” he said. “Informed consent is a standard of medical care. I’ve heard stories of certain people who made choices and came back later and say ‘no one told me this.’ So, it’s well known there are people who have chosen to detransition and filed a lawsuit because of serious medical complications from surgeries and hormone therapies.”


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