Michael Lemelin

Maine state Rep. Michael Lemelin (R-88) speaks to reporters.

(Photo: Michael Lemelin/Facebook)

2 Maine Republicans Say Lewiston Mass Shooting Was God's Retribution for Abortion Rights

"Viewing mass shooters as instruments of God seems like it's the perfect next step for Republicans," said one critic. "It combines everything that drives the modern Republican Party."

Two Maine state Republican lawmakers on Thursday were formally censured for saying during a legislative debate that the deadliest shooting in the state's history was the result of God's wrath over abortion, and issued apologies—but rights advocates said their views should not be treated as an aberration in the GOP.

"Viewing mass shooters as instruments of God seems like it's the perfect next step for Republicans," said writer Mark Sumner. "It combines everything that drives the modern Republican Party."

State Rep. Michael Lemelin (R-88) invoked last year's shooting in Lewiston, Maine on Wednesday night during a debate over L.D. 227, a proposal to protect healthcare providers from being targeted by other states' restrictions on gender-affirming and reproductive care.

Lemelin urged his colleagues to consider last year's passage of L.D. 1619, which expanded access to abortion later in pregnancy and went into effect on October 25—the same day a gunman opened fire at a bowling alley and a restaurant in Lewiston, killing 18 people and injuring 13 others.

"When 1619 passed and went into law on October 25, you told God life doesn't matter," Lemelin said. "Keep in mind that the law came into effect on October 25. God heard you and the horrible events on October 25 happened."

Lemelin added that there would be "severe consequences" if the House passed L.D. 227, and also tied recent severe rain and snowstorms in Maine to God's opposition to the state's support for abortion rights.

"Radical religiosity is becoming far too common in mainstream politics," said Ryan Fecteau, a Democratic former Maine House speaker. "It is dangerous and threatens good governance."

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle denounced Lemelin's comments, but the outcry didn't stop Rep. Shelley Rudnicki (R-67) from rising to tell her colleagues she agreed "with Rep. Lemelin and everything he said."

"The GOP is now blaming mass shootings on abortion," said California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat. "Seriously."

When L.D. 227 later passed in a vote of 80-70, Rudnicki called it "a very sad day for Maine."

Lemelin has previously downplayed the Covid-19 pandemic—just as then-President Donald Trump, Fox News personality Sean Hannity, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), and others did in 2020—and called the climate crisis a "hoax," a view also shared by numerous Republican politicians.

The House voted unanimously to censure Lemelin and Rudnicki, requiring them to deliver "brief, identical apologies on the House floor" that allowed them "to resume their ability to speak and vote."

State House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross (D-118) told the lawmakers Thursday that their remarks were "extremely offensive and intentionally harmful to the victims and the families of the Lewiston tragedy, the House of Representatives, and the people of Maine."

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