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Every day, hundreds of sick and injured patients walk into free and charitable clinics around the Tampa Bay area in need of a doctor.Many are suffering from chronic conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Some patients were referred to the clinics by staff at hospitals where they landed after years of neglecting to care for treatable conditions.The clinics allow the patients to pay what they can, or nothing at all. They are staffed by doctors and nurses who volunteer their time. They survive off donations and small grants.Many of the patients have jobs but they are living paycheck to paycheck. None have health insurance, either because they do not qualify for Medicaid or can’t afford private coverage. For these patients, the clinics are often their only option for primary care.

Palm Beach County First In State To Ban Conversion Therapy

Palm Beach County is the first county in Florida to ban conversion therapy for minors.

County commissioners voted 5-2 Tuesday to ban the controversial form of treatment that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation.

Opponents say the practice is pseudoscience dangerous to gay, lesbian and transgender youth. The American Psychiatric Association also opposes the practice and calls it unethical.

But supporters of conversion therapy argue the ban will infringe on free speech, religious freedom and parental rights.

The vote came after County Attorney Denise Nieman voiced concern that approving the ban could open up the county to a lawsuit.

The Orlando-based nonprofit Liberty Counsel filed a federal lawsuit earlier this month against a similar ban in Tampa.

The ordinance will apply to licensed therapists but not clergy, and will apply to unincorporated areas of Palm Beach County and cities that do not opt out.

Several cities in the county have already barred conversion therapy, including West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Delray Beach and Boca Raton.

The Palm Beach County ban will take effect as soon as it's filed with the Florida Department of State.

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