Maine lawmakers heard arguments Tuesday on a bill that would shield Maine’s health care providers from laws in other states that ban or limit abortions or gender-affirming care.

L.D. 227 seeks to protect health care providers from subpoenas or warrants, health records requests, extradition requests and other civil or criminal proceedings if they provide care that has been banned in a patient’s home state. The law would build on a more limited executive action by Gov. Janet Mills that protects abortion providers.

The Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee held a public hearing Monday on the bill.

“Maine remains a safe harbor for health care services that are critical to individual physical and mental wellbeing, including abortion, assisted reproduction (IVF) and gender-affirming care,” said Lisa Marguiles, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, which provides abortion care and reproductive care in Maine. Marguiles said protections are needed after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022.

“States across the country are not only banning essential health care, but also driving efforts aimed at penalizing, and even criminally prosecuting, health care providers and people who help patients access state care,” Marguiles said.

If approved, Maine would join 17 states and Washington, D.C., to pass laws shielding health care providers from legal action by states that have banned or restricted abortions, Marguiles said. Eleven states plus Washington, D.C., have enacted similar laws protecting providers of gender-affirming care.


Twenty-two states have approved laws banning gender-affirming care, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Twenty-one states have banned or limited abortion rights since Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Republican legislative leaders criticized the bill at the State House before the hearing. And during the hearing, Republican committee members asked proponents about the possibility that people would kidnap children – in custody battles, for example – to bring them across state lines to Maine for transgender care. They asked whether health care providers would be barred from sharing information with police in those cases.

“There are severe concerns about parents who want to make sure they know what is going on with their minor children,” said state Rep. Joshua Morris, R-Turner.

Marguiles said that nothing in the bill would protect people who commit crimes, including kidnapping, while seeking access to health care. And a non-custodial parent could not circumvent laws preventing them from getting health care for a minor against the wishes of the legal guardian, she said.

Much of the testimony against the bill cited moral objections to abortion and gender-affirming care for children. Maine passed laws last year protecting or expanding access to both types of care, even as other states are passing bans or restrictions.

Abortion is now legal in Maine after a fetus is viable, generally at about 24 weeks, if a physician finds it is necessary.


And 16- and 17-year-olds are guaranteed access to gender-affirming hormone therapy without parental consent under certain circumstances, including a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is diagnosed when someone’s expressed gender identity is different from the gender assigned at birth for a sustained period of time. Maine law does not permit gender reassignment surgery without parental consent for minors.

“The bill protects established, best-practice medical care that is legal in Maine and ensures our local providers and health care infrastructure aren’t negatively impacted by hostile laws in other states,” Brenda Franey of South Portland told lawmakers during the hearing.

But Karen Vachon of Scarborough said “gender-affirming care is destructive, a life-changing procedure that is irreversible. Passage of this bill will increase demands on our health care system by out-of-state people. Maine people should be top priority.”

Kim Esquibel, executive director of the Maine Board of Nursing, did not stake out a position on the bill, but noted that it could have consequences when Maine seeks cooperation from other states.

“There exists a concern that passage of this type of legislation will result in decreased cooperation and assistance from other states for Maine licensing agencies seeking to investigate licensee conduct occurring outside of Maine, but which conduct has the potential to impact Maine patient safety,” Esquibel said.

Tim Terranova, executive director of the Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine, which licenses medical doctors and physician assistants, raised similar concerns, pointing out that the law could be in conflict with interstate licensing compacts that foster cooperation between states on licensing matters.

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