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Jul 18, 2011
This post was originally published on RH Reality Check.
By Jodi Jacboson
One of the most pervasive characteristics of the anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-woman movement, of which Michele Bachmann proudly places herself in the forefront, is that they are also anti-science and anti-evidence and openly flout sound medical practices based on evidence and clinical practice and approved by legitimate medical boards and associations.
These practices have long been a feature of so-called crisis pregnancy centers, which exist solely to confuse women seeking to terminate a pregnancy, often have no medical staff and, as a matter of practice, offer women outright false information, such as that having an abortion will cause increase their risks of breast cancer.
Crisis pregnancy centers engage in these practices because they know the evidence is not on their side. Their only hope at "succeeding" in their quests (success being defined as abrogating women’s rights to self-determination) is to mislead women who have decided to terminate a pregnancy with lies based on ideology and misguided theology, not evidence.
This, it appears, is the model adopted by the Bachmanns with respect to sexual orientation.
The Bachmanns own two clinics in Minnesota, employ more than two dozen therapists and took in $137,000 in Medicaid funds.
It turns out that Dr. Bachmann, as he is known, is practicing without a license.
The Minnesota Board of Psychology and the Board of Marriage and Family Therapy confirmed to POLITICO that Bachmann is not licensed with them. And a search of the Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy license database returns no result.
The New York Times reports that Dr. Bachmann lists himself as a clinical therapist. But Trisha Stark, of the Minnesota Psychological Association, told Politico that the title "clinical therapist" is not widely used in professional circles and that Bachmann is able to operate his clinic because of state rules regarding mental health practice.
"Minnesota is one of the only states in which you can practice mental health without a license," Stark said.
Goldberg writes: ‘Neither Bachmann nor many of his therapists, it’s important to note, have serious psychological training."
Marcus Bachmann received his doctorate in psychology from Union Institute and University. As Goldberg notes:
His Ph.D. comes from the Union Institute, a Cincinnati-based correspondence school; in 2002, it was cited by the Ohio Board of Regents, which said, "Expectations for student scholarship at the doctoral level were not as rigorous as is common for doctoral work."
It may therefore not be surprising that the Bachmanns’ clinics offer what is known colloquially as "reparative therapy," or so-called gay-to-straight counseling, an approach that legitimate medical and pyschological associations define as dangerous and without merit.
A 2007 task force put together by the American Psychological Association, which first condemned reparative therapy in a 1997 resolution, concluded that "efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm." The resolution affirmed the principle that "psychologists do not make false or deceptive statements concerning…the scientific or clinical basis for…their services."
Goldberg cites the American Psychiatric Association, which states:
"The potential risks of ‘reparative therapy’ are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient."
On the other hand, as noted by the NYT, The American Association of Christian Counselors, which has 50,000 members, and of which the Bachmanns are members, supports reparative therapy "on biblical, ethical and legal grounds" for patients "with a genuine desire to be set free of homosexual attractions," according to its code of ethics. The goal is "heterosexual relations and marriage or lifelong sexual celibacy."
While Marcus Bachmann has continued to deny it, evidence collected by the group Truth Wins Out, the Nation, and through interviews with former clients cited by the NYT, confirm what has long been suspected:
The Nation’s Mariah Blake provides this anecdote:
In the summer of 2004, Andrew Ramirez, who was just about to enter his senior year of high school, worked up the nerve to tell his family he was gay. His mother took the news in stride, but his stepfather, a conservative Christian, was outraged. "He said it was wrong, an abomination, that it was something he would not tolerate in his house," Ramirez recalls. A few weeks later, his parents marched him into the office of Bachmann & Associates, a Christian counseling center in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, which is owned by Michele Bachmann’s husband, Marcus. From the outset, Ramirez says, his therapist—one of roughly twenty employed at the Lake Elmo clinic—made it clear that renouncing his sexual orientation was the only moral choice. "He basically said being gay was not an acceptable lifestyle in God’s eyes," Ramirez recalls. According to Ramirez, his therapist then set about trying to "cure" him. Among other things, he urged Ramirez to pray and read the Bible, particularly verses that cast homosexuality as an abomination, and referred him to a local church for people who had given up the "gay lifestyle." He even offered to set Ramirez up with an ex-lesbian mentor.
So like crisis pregnancy centers, the Bachmanns are employing deceptive practices based on misguided religious ideology, irrespective of the effect on real people.
And like crisis pregnancy centers, "reparative" therapy may fit the Bachmanns twisted worldview, but apart from flouting the evidence, it is neither ethical nor moral, nor in my estimation, "Christian" either in its intent or its outcome.
But there is another word for the work of these kinds of clinics: malpractice.