Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, individual states have been banding together in response – and they have been pulling apart.

More than a year ago, this editorial board praised Gov. Mills for joining with a group of Democratic state governors in a coalition that undertook to “formalize shared approaches to policymaking, pool information, work together on budgeting strategies and reach some common ground on legal fights breaking out nationwide.”

Last week, we witnessed a spurious example of the reverse in action.

A letter sent to the state’s political leaders by a group of 16 Republican attorneys general came down hard on the shield law that Maine Legislature is considering passing into law, L.D. 227. The shield law would protect Maine-based health care providers from civil or criminal proceedings if they provide care that has been banned in a patient’s home state.

About 17 states have passed shield laws. There is nothing “extreme” about this; it’s a safeguard that’s being pursued because of a legitimate threat.

Shield laws like the one Maine is considering were primarily put forward to allow practitioners to administer abortions without risk of prosecution. Lately, opponents are attempting to deflect attention onto one of the more inflamed questions of 2024: the provision of transgender health care to minors.


The letter argues that the proposal “seeks to 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.”

Support for a shield law should not be frustrated by this over-the-top intervention, which puts an inaccurate emphasis on gender-reassignment surgery for minors – surgery that is not, according to the Maine Hospital Association and MaineHealth, something Maine providers are offering.

The creation of a shield law is proposed to protect Maine health care providers from these statewide “views.” The letter uses simplistic language to advance an abstract federalist ideal. At moments, it seems to contradict itself. (The petulant sentence “One state cannot control another,” features in the closing paragraph.)

Any exertion of control here is attempted by the Republican states that wish to hunt down their residents and go after Maine health care workers. The attorneys general somehow find it appropriate to complain of “totalitarian impulses” and faintly threaten that the institution of a shield law in Maine “could also trigger a rapid tit-for-tat escalation that tears apart our Republic.” Small wonder, again, which parties would be driving such an escalation.

Elsewhere in the country, legal challenges are already underway, and the constitutionality of the concept will soon be clarified by the courts.

Until that happens, our legislators should work to pass the shield law and not be taken in by dubious, politically motivated attacks on something that would, if given up on, only expose decent law-abiding Mainers to more politically motivated attacks.

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