Maine Republicans Censured For Linking Mass Shooting To God’s Anger With Abortion Law

“God heard you and the horrible events on Oct. 25 happened," state Rep. Michael Lemelin told his colleagues earlier this week.

Two Republican lawmakers in Maine were censured on Thursday after the pair said the state’s deadliest mass shooting was linked to God’s anger with a bill that expanded access to abortion.

Republican state Rep. Michael Lemelin spoke Wednesday about a proposal for a new “shield bill” that would protect out-of-state patients who seek abortion or gender-affirming care in Maine. In his remarks, Lemelin said abortion was “murder” and pointed to the implementation of another abortion access bill on Oct. 25, the same day a gunman killed 18 people after he opened fire at a bowling alley and restaurant.

“[God] draws a line in the sand, and when we crossed that line there’s consequences,” the lawmaker said on the chamber floor. “When [the law] passed and went into law on Oct. 25, you told God life doesn’t matter.”

“Keep in mind that the law came into effect on Oct. 25,” Lemelin continued. “God heard you and the horrible events on Oct. 25 happened.”

Another Republican lawmaker, state Rep. Shelley Rudnicki, rose and said she agreed with her colleague.

The two were formally censured by the House on Thursday. They both apologized on the chamber floor.

The comments initially prompted an immediate, bipartisan rebuke from others in Maine’s Democrat-led House of Representatives. State Rep. Rachel Henderson (R) said she didn’t agree with the bill, but called Lemelin’s comments “reprehensible.”

“Although it’s not my place, I apologize to every member who was here and heard that and took offense,” Henderson said on the chamber floor. “I’m proud of where I stand. I’m proud of the positions that I take, but tonight I am not proud to be a Republican.”

State House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross sent letters to both lawmakers, calling the comments “extremely offensive and intentionally harmful to the victims and families” of the mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine.

“To make satisfaction, you must issue a formal apology, which you will read on the House floor,” Talbot Ross wrote in each letter. “You must accept sole and full responsibility for the incident and publicly apologize to your constituents, the victims, and families of the Lewiston tragedy, the greater Lewiston community, and the people of Maine.”

She added the House would vote on a censure motion on Thursday, and said they would both be barred from speaking on the chamber floor or voting until they apologized.

“Your actions are deserving of the most serious consequences this body can deliver,” Talbot Ross wrote.

A censure — which is rare in the Maine House, according to The Bangor Daily News — requires a two-thirds vote of the chamber. Democrats hold an 80-68 majority.

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