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Maine Republicans Claim God’s Wrath Against Abortion Led to Mass Shooting

The remarks showed a “deeply troubling absence of empathy and infuriating disregard for the victims,” one Democrat said.

A makeshift memorial grows outside of Schemengees Bar & Grille one of two locations where a mass shooting killed 18 people.

Two Republican lawmakers in Maine were reprimanded this week for trying to link the expansion of abortion rights and gender-affirming care to a mass shooting that took place in the state last fall.

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, Maine joined a number of states in passing a statutory law protecting access to abortion in the summer of 2023.

During debate on legislation this week that would create protections for Maine health care workers who provide abortion or gender-affirming care services to out-of-state patients, Rep. Michael Lemelin (R) attempted to tie the expansion of abortion rights in the state to a mass shooting that happened in Lewiston, Maine, in October 2023.

The passage of the abortion law and the mass shooting — the deadliest in the state’s history — had no connection whatsoever. Nevertheless, Lemelin insisted that the shooting, which killed 18 people and injured 13, was the result of God’s wrath.

“Meditate on this, madam speaker: when [the abortion law] passed and went into law on October 25th, you told God life doesn’t matter,” Lemelin said on Wednesday. “Keep in mind that the law came into effect on October 25th. God heard you and the horrible events on October 25th happened.”

The abortion law, passed months earlier, went into effect the same day the massacre took place. But the two events are unrelated— the shooter appeared to be motivated by his errant belief that people were spreading conspiracy theories about him, rather than by anything to do with abortion.

A second GOP lawmaker, Rep. Shelley Rudnicki, expressed her wholehearted agreement with Lemelin’s comments on the House floor.

“I just want to stand and say that I agree with Rep. Lemelin and everything he said,” Rudnicki said.

Lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle condemned Lemelin’s and Rudnicki’s comments.

The Republican legislators’ remarks displayed a “deeply troubling absence of empathy and infuriating disregard for the victims, their families and everyone in our community whose hearts remain shattered by this horrific act of senseless violence,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Kristen Cloutier (D).

State Rep. Rachel Henderson, a Republican, also blasted her colleagues’ commentaries.

“The statements made today, I will not speak to the character or the motives, but those statements were reprehensible and ones that I do not support, and I do not get behind,” Henderson said.

In response to Lemelin’s and Rudnicki’s appalling remarks, two-thirds of the House passed a censure motion against them. After that vote, the two lawmakers apologized, doing so to fulfill a formal requirement in order to speak on the House floor again in the future.

In a letter informing Lemelin of the pending censure vote, House Speaker Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross (D) admonished him for his “extremely offensive and intentionally harmful to the victims and the families of the Lewiston tragedy, the House of Representatives, and the people of Maine.”

The bill that Lemelin was protesting passed in the House chamber by a vote of 80-70, as well as in the state Senate. It will likely be signed into law by the governor.

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