On March 11, the attorneys general of 16 states sent a letter to Gov. Janet Mills, Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey, and legislative leaders warning that L.D. 227, a proposal for a “shield law” in Maine was an attempt to intimidate other states and that it could “… trigger a rapid tit-for-tat escalation that tears apart our Republic.” The letter also asserted that “one state cannot control another. The totalitarian impulse to stifle dissent and oppress dissenters has no place in our shared America.”

Based on this rhetoric, one might assume that the legislative proposal in question is a declaration of war between the states. However, L.D. 227 is a bill that seeks to provide legal protection for Maine health care providers who offer reproductive and gender-affirming care; services which are legal in the state of Maine.

The Press Herald editorial board dismissed the letter as “election-year posturing.” While the letter is unquestionably performative, it’s a mistake to think that the states levying these threats are not serious. There are escalating examples of states criminalizing care, compelling people to seek treatment elsewhere.

Texas woman Kate Cox’s high-risk pregnancy jeopardized her life and future fertility. A district court granted an order for an abortion, but the Texas Supreme Court overturned it, forcing Cox to flee the state for life-saving care.

Jennifer Adkins of Idaho learned at 12 weeks that her baby was unlikely to survive due to multiple conditions. Facing life-threatening complications, she was forced to travel to Oregon for care after receiving financial assistance from two abortion funds.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton ordered the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to conduct child abuse investigations of parents who sought medically necessary gender-affirming care for their children. Paxton attempted to extend his reach outside of Texas, subpoenaing providers in Washington state and Georgia to produce Texas children’s private medical records. Paxton also targeted PFLAG, a D.C. based LGBTQ+ advocacy group, demanding information on its work assisting families seeking gender-affirming care.


The attorneys generals’ letter underscores that states which are limiting rights will not confine their actions to their borders. To paraphrase Maya Angelou, when people show you who they are, believe them.

Rhode Island is considering a bill similar to L.D. 227. This month, Michael Miglori, of the Rhode Island Medical Society, gave testimony to that state’s House Judiciary committee saying: “There are already two suits in Rhode Island naming individuals here,” and that the threat of litigation against providers operating in states where care is legal was “not hypothetical.”

Following the Supreme Court’s Dodd v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, which overturned the constitutional right to abortion, individual states have rushed to enact restrictive laws, deepening our nation’s partisan divide. While some states seek to roll back freedoms, others are working to expand and protect them.

Maine shouldn’t need a shield law. Yet, due to a nakedly partisan Supreme Court and in the face of federal inaction, we find ourselves in a position where we must adopt one to protect our providers and patients from out-of-state politicians’ extreme agendas.

We cannot allow ourselves to be terrorized by the false bomb threats made earlier this month against the sponsors of L.D. 227. We cannot be cowed by the testimony against L.D. 227, which was couched in religious intolerance and delivered from an imagined moral high ground. And we certainly cannot afford to be intimidated by the letter from the 16 attorneys general who apparently believe their authority extends to lawmaking in the state of Maine.

Maine’s health care providers and patients deserve the same protection from out-of-state threats as those in the 17 other states that have already passed shield laws. I urge Mainers to contact their state representatives and tell them to support passage of L.D. 227, ensuring that Maine is a state where people and families can access the health care they need without fear of retribution.

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