State attorneys general threaten lawsuit over Maine abortion, transgender bill — By: Catholic News Agency

The Maine State House in Augusta. / Credit: Wangkun Jia/Shutterstock

CNA Staff, Mar 12, 2024 / 17:30 pm (CNA).

Over a dozen state attorneys general are threatening a possible lawsuit over a bill in the Maine Legislature that extends legal protections to out-of-state residents seeking transgender-related medical procedures.

The March 11 letter, signed by 16 attorneys general, argues that Maine’s LD 227 would “contravene the lawful policy choices of our states’ citizens” by “imposing on the rest of the country Maine’s views on hotly debated issues such as gender transition surgeries for children.”

The proposed measure, if passed, would offer legal protection to out-of-state individuals who seek transgender procedures in Maine. The measure would also extend legal protections to ”reproductive health care services.” 

State legislatures around the country have in recent months moved to limit or prohibit both abortion and transgender-related medical services.

In their letter, the prosecutors wrote that the bill “purports to shield from liability those offering or aiding the provision of unlawful services to citizens located in our states.”

They also argued that the bill “purports to block valid orders and judgments from our state courts enforcing laws upheld by federal appellate courts.”

State Rep. Anne Perry, who first put forth the bill in the Maine House of Representatives, clarified to CNA on Tuesday that under the proposal, “a provider cannot travel to another state to provide services that are legal in Maine but not in another state.”

“A provider working in another state must follow that state’s laws,” she said. “This bill only covers services that occur in Maine when both the provider and patient are physically in Maine and subject to Maine law.”

The bill would further allow state residents to “bring a civil action in [Maine]” against out-of-state individuals who seek “civil, criminal, or administrative” actions against Maine residents over “protected health care activity.”  

The attorneys general in their letter argued that the measure “creates a private right of action for damages against law enforcement, prosecutors, and other officials in our states who are enforcing our own valid state laws.” 

The proposal’s “ill-considered attempt to influence and intimidate officials in other states could also trigger a rapid tit-for-tat escalation that tears apart our republic,” the attorneys general wrote, arguing that under the Maine law officials in other states “would be dragged into legal battles in far-flung jurisdictions, thwarting their ability to focus on protecting their own citizens consistent with their own duly-enacted laws.”

“Maine has every right to decide what Maine’s laws are and how those laws should be enforced. But that same right applies to every state,” the letter states. 

The prosecutors said they would “vigorously avail ourselves of every recourse our Constitution provides” if the measure ultimately becomes law.

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