Advocates praise passage, signing of shield law that will protect Maine providers of reproductive care and care for transgender people from out-of-state attacks 

Maine joins more than a dozen states in enacting protections as Biden administration announces similar protections for abortion patients under federal patient privacy law 

(Portland, MAINE) – Governor Janet Mills has signed into law a bill that will protect Maine’s providers of reproductive care and care for transgender people from out-of-state attacks. The measure, LD 227, was approved by the legislature on April 12 and will take effect in mid-July. 

Lawmakers heard from numerous Mainers and care providers who advocated for the measure in March. In the days following that public hearing, legislators faced physical and political threats along with rampant disinformation. In addition, attorneys general from 16 red states threatened legal action if Maine’s legislature continued working on the bill. As Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey stated, the bill “simply protect[s] providers of legally protected reproductive and gender-affirming health care provided in Maine from interference or retaliation from states with different policies.”   

To date, 21 states across the country have enacted bans or near total bans on abortion. At least 24 states have banned access to safe and effective medical care for transgender adolescents, and some have moved to restrict access to care for transgender adults. 

Mills’ signing came on the same day the Biden administration announced a new federal rule—in line with LD 227—that shields abortion patients’ medical records from being disclosed to law enforcement if the procedure is received in a state where it is legal or protected by federal law. The Biden administration’s rule is based on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). 

LD 227 is consistent with Governor Janet Mills’ July 2022 executive order safeguarding providers and patients of reproductive care in the wake of the Dobbs Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. It also builds on legislation passed by Maine lawmakers in June 2023 that protects reproductive health care providers from adverse actions by malpractice insurers. 

Statement from Lisa Margulies, Esq., Vice President of Public Affairs, Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund 

“We applaud every lawmaker who stood up for the medical providers, patients and people of Maine and voted for this bill. We thank Governor Mills for her commitment to ensuring Mainers can safely access essential medical care and protecting our providers from hostile attacks. 

Our state sends a clear message with LD 227: Maine remains a safe harbor for sexual and reproductive health care, for providers and the patients they serve. Extremists opposed to safe, legal medical care will not stop their assault on our rights, but we will not be intimidated by their attacks.  

Clinicians deserve to serve their patients without fear of persecution by out-of-state politicians wholly unqualified to weigh in on personal medical decisions. Patients deserve access to health care that is safe and legal in our state. LD 227 protects our health care infrastructure from extremist attempts to take away our rights and freedoms.” 

Statement from Polly Crozier, Director of Family Advocacy, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) 

“As politicians in more and more states seek to take away our ability to make important, private medical decisions for ourselves and our families, we must do all we can to ensure vital, standard-of-care health care remains legal and accessible. LD 227 will secure access to reproductive health care and essential health care for transgender people and will protect the dedicated practitioners who provide it in Maine.” 

Statement from Mary Bonauto, Senior Director of Civil Rights and Legal Strategies, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders  

“We’re grateful to Governor Mills, to lead sponsors Representative Anne Perry and Senator Donna Bailey, and to all the legislators who focused on the need to protect our health care providers in Maine and who persisted despite the disinformation and intimidation used to try to stop this critical legislation. LD 227 ensures Maine law will govern health care in Maine and that Maine providers who provide that care are protected.  This law affirms once again the State’s commitment to reproductive freedom and equality for transgender Mainers.” 

Statement from Gia Drew, Executive Director, EqualityMaine 

“We are thrilled to see LD 227, the shield bill, be signed into law by Governor Mills. Thanks to our pro equality and pro reproductive choice elected officials who refused to back down in the face of disinformation. This bill couldn’t come into effect at a better time, as more than 40% of states across the country have either banned or attempted to block access to reproductive care, which includes abortions, as well as transgender healthcare for minors. Thanks to our coalition partners who worked tirelessly to phone bank, lobby, and get this bill over the finish line to protect community health.” 

Statement from Cait Vaughan, Interim Executive Director, Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights (GRR!) 

“As an organization of older women who have invested 50+ years into advancing respect for bodily autonomy, GRR! is thrilled to learn from and work alongside transgender leaders to expand everyone’s understanding of this fundamental democratic principle. LD 227 becoming law makes us proud of Maine’s commitment to protecting health care access for all.” 

Statement from Aspen Ruhlin, Community Engagement Manager, Mabel Wadsworth Center 

“With the passing and signing of LD 227, Maine has unequivocally declared that both patients and providers of gender-affirming care and abortion care deserve protection. This bill will help assure not only access to care for both Mainers and those visiting, but medical privacy as well. The opposition to this bill was loud, but nowhere near as loud as truth, compassion, and care.” 

Statement from George A. Hill, President and CEO, Maine Family Planning 

“With gender-affirming and reproductive care under attack across the country, ensuring that individuals have the fundamental right to make informed medical choices in collaboration with trusted providers is crucial. We’re grateful to the Legislature and Governor Mills for recognizing that Maine must protect access to the high-quality, medically necessary care we and other healthcare organizations provide our patients.” 
 

Statement from Bre Danvers-Kidman, MaineTransNet 

“While the hateful rhetoric and terrorist tactics leading up to the votes point to a worrisome trend in political discourse, we are heartened by the votes to pass LD 227. Maine healthcare providers can now be assured that it is safe for them to provide evidence-based, life-saving care without fear of criminalization by the overreaching hands of out-of-state politicians. Similarly, patients seeking care in Maine can now be assured that it is safe to access the healthcare they need. The Governor and the majority of Maine lawmakers have demonstrated exceptional fortitude in the face of truly reprehensible behavior, and our state is better for it. The message is clear: Maine won’t let far-right extremism, outlandish misinformation, or even domestic terrorism stand in the way of ensuring all patients can safely access the best healthcare available here.” 

Statement from Destie Hohman Sprague, Maine Women’s Lobby 

“A gender-just Maine ensures that all Mainers have access to quality health care that supports their mental and physical wellbeing and bodily autonomy, including comprehensive reproductive and gender-affirming care. We celebrate the passage of LD 227, which helps us meet that goal. Still, the patterns of violence and disinformation ahead of the vote reflected the growing connections between misogyny, extremism, and anti-democratic threats and actions. We must continue to advocate for policies that protect bodily autonomy, and push back against extremist rhetoric that threatens our states’ rights and our citizens’ freedoms.” 

Statement from Abbie Strout-Bentes, Executive Director, Safe Abortions for Everyone (SAFE) 

“We are currently witnessing unprecedented attacks on gender-affirming care and abortion access across the country. However, we are fortunate to live in Maine, where leaders continue to see through lies and fear tactics. Today, we thank Maine’s lawmakers and advocates as Governor Mills signs LD 227, another critical bill to protect and ensure access to gender-affirming and reproductive health care.”