The fate of a new California law that would prohibit doctors and therapists from trying to change a minor's sexual orientation depends in part on rulings in other cases in which the government tried to restrict physicians' communications with their patients. Will the law be viewed as similar to a federal policy that prevented doctors from recommending marijuana to their patients? If so, the law perishes. Or is California's ban on so-called conversion therapy akin to a regulation upheld by the Supreme Court that required doctors to tell patients about the possibly detrimental effects of abortion? The dispute is before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is expected to decide within the next several days whether to put the law on hold before it takes effect Jan. 1. A ruling could take months. The ban on trying to change a minor's sexual orientation, the first of its kind in the nation, has divided the lower courts. A federal judge in Sacramento appointed by President Obama found that the law did not violate free speech rights; her colleague, appointed by the first President Bush, concluded that it did.
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