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Maine Republicans Censured After Claiming God's Anger Over Abortion Caused Lewiston Shooting

A bipartisan supermajority of Maine's legislature censured State Reps. Michael Lemelin and Shelley Rudnicki for claiming the Lewiston shooting last year was due to God's anger over LD1619, an abortion shield law.

Screenshots of Michael Lemelin and Shelley Rudnicki
@MaineHDCC/X; @ZachBlanchard/X

A bipartisan supermajority of Maine's legislature censured Republican State Representatives Michael Lemelin and Shelley Rudnicki for claiming last October's mass shooting in the town of Lewiston was due to God's anger over LD1619, a bill that expands access to abortion and shields patients from punishment.

The controversy erupted after Lemelin spoke on Wednesday about a proposed "shield bill" aimed at safeguarding out-of-state patients seeking abortion or gender-affirming care in Maine.

During his remarks, Lemelin characterized abortion as "murder" and suggested a connection between the passage of an abortion access bill and the tragic mass shooting that claimed 18 lives at a bowling alley and restaurant on October 25.

He said:

"God draws a line in the sand, and when we crossed that line, there's consequences."
"When [LD1619] passed and went into law on October 25, you told God life doesn't matter. Keep in mind that the law went into effect on October 25. God heard you and the horrible events of October 25 happened."

Rudnicki subsequently expressed agreement with Lemelin's statements.

But Lemelin was called out by his Democratic colleague Marc Malon, who said that "implying that the passage of legislation caused a horrible and horrific evil tragedy is impugning the character of every member of this chamber."

You can hear what Lemelin said in the video below.

The remarks prompted widespread outrage and condemnation, leading to the formal censure of both lawmakers by the House on Thursday.

The House subsequently voted on a censure motion, with the lawmakers barred from speaking on the chamber floor or voting until they issued public apologies.

Censure actions are rare in the Maine House, according to reports, requiring a two-thirds vote of the chamber. With Democrats holding an 80-68 majority, the motion passed, underscoring the bipartisan condemnation of the lawmakers' remarks.

Lemelin apologized shortly afterward, saying he accepts "full responsibility for my remarks on the House floor."

Rudnicki later issued an apology "to my colleagues in the House and the people connected to the horrible events of October 25 and to the state of Maine."

Both lawmakers have faced harsh criticism since the news went viral.

The Lewiston shooting is the deadliest mass shooting in Maine's history, resulting in 18 fatalities and 13 injuries.

The shooting spanned two different locations: a bar and a bowling alley, with numerous individuals sustaining injuries in the incident, according to law enforcement sources. The shooter was later found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a two-day manhunt.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have condemned Lemelin for his remarks in particular, with Republican Rachel Henderson describing them as "reprehensible."

Henderson added that she is "proud of the positions that I take, but tonight I am not proud to be a Republican," adding:

“Nowhere in the Bible do I see where the word of God is to be used as a weapon against people, or where we are told to speak on behalf of God to express his wrath to the people. 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.”

State Assistant House Majority Leader Kristen Cloutier, a Democrat, spoke out against Lemelin and Rudnicki, saying that connecting the shooting to the abortion shield law is both "asinine" and "reprehensible."

Cloutier said she is "dismayed by this stunning lack of respect, 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."