L.D. 227: Protections for reproductive and gender-affirming health care

An Act Regarding Legally Protected Health Care Activity in the State.
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The measure, known as a “shield law,” prompted intense debate and national attention.
The Maine Monitor is recapping the 131st Legislature by highlighting legislative bills you should know about. View all of our recaps.

Lawmakers passed a bill that would protect people who travel to Maine for abortions or gender-affirming care, as well as health professionals providing the services, from legal action by other states.

The measure, known as a “shield law,” prompted intense debate and national attention, including a letter signed by attorneys general from more than a dozen states threatening Maine with legal action if the bill passed.

Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey pushed back, calling the concerns “meritless.”

Tensions were further inflamed after a Maine lawmaker blamed expanded abortion protections for the October mass shooting in Lewiston. Rep. Michael Lemelin, R-Chelsea, was censured for his remarks, as was Rep. Shelley Rudnicki, R-Fairfield, who had said she agreed with him.

Despite the controversy, the measure passed 21-13 in the Senate and 79-67 in the House.

Gov. Janet Mills signed it into law on April 22.

Read the full bill on the legislature’s website.

Here are some excerpts from the testimony:

For:

“In three states, administering gender-affirming health care to a minor is a felony, punishable by up to a decade in prison. That has meant that families have had to look to other states for care options, refuge and safety. … Maine’s medical providers deserve the right to provide best-practice medical care without fear of recrimination or threat of legal consequences.” ~ Gia Drew, EqualityMaine

“L.D. 227 will protect access to health care that is legal in Maine and will ensure Maine providers can continue to deliver high-quality health care by protecting access for transgender people and for those seeking abortion care. It is a straightforward bill to ensure that Maine law can continue to govern Maine health care. It is a necessary bill given the escalating attacks on abortion care and essential health care for transgender people by extremists who are desperate to interfere with personal medical decisions.” ~ Jane Field, Maine Council of Churches

“This bill protects (physician assistants’) ability to practice standard-of-care reproductive and gender-affirming health care, as Maine law allows, without fear of out-of-state vigilantism. Access to gender-affirming and reproductive health care is critical to protect (an) individual’s physical and mental well-being, and is in the best interest of broader public health.”  ~ Laura Harper, Maine Association of Physician Assistants 

Against:

“L.D. 227 seeks to contravene the lawful policy choices of our state’s citizens by imposing on the rest of the country Maine’s views on hotly debated issues such as gender transition surgeries for children. The law’s far-reaching provisions are unprecedented.” ~ Attorneys general for other states wrote in a letter to Gov. Janet Mills, Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey and top lawmakers.

“L.D. 227 would be a great detriment to our state for numerous reasons. It proposes to make gender affirming and reproductive health care services a legal right not just in Maine but for all states and territories subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Who will be footing the bill for this proposed legal right? To say it simply, Maine would become a sanctuary state for abortion and transgender medical care — at the expense of Maine taxpayers and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.” ~ Jennifer White, Maine Right to Life

“Pump the brakes. We are talking about children getting transgender transition treatment and surgeries. We cannot ignore reality that these treatments and surgeries are irreversible. They have lifelong consequences on these young people’s reproductive function as well as their general health.” ~ Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham, Maine House Republican leader

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Rose Lundy

Rose Lundy covers public health for The Maine Monitor. She is a 2020 Report for America corps member, and a 2022 ProPublica Local Reporting Network fellow. Rose previously covered politics and local government at The Daily News in southwest Washington. She grew up in Minnesota and graduated from the University of Wisconsin.
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L.D. 780: Abortion access

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