Contentious Hearings Held in Maine Courts

Contentious Hearings Held in Maine Courts

The safety of women in shelters, the rights of parents to direct their children’s medical care and the issue of biological males competing in women’s sports are all up for discussion in the state of Maine.

May 6 beginning at 9 a.m., the legislature’s joint judiciary committee held public hearings on five different bills related to these issues. It seems to be an uphill fight in the Democrat-controlled committee.

Two of the bills would ban biological males from competing in women’s sports, with one bill covering schools in general and the other covering schools that receive federal funding.

Carroll Conley, executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine, told Decision that many people who privately support the bills are afraid to testify in support of them for fear of repercussions. Several people submitted written testimony in support of the bills, however, including Jennifer Wagner-Assali, an orthopedic surgeon who has competed as an elite semi-professional cyclist. In 2018, she took third place in the 200-meter sprint at the UCI Masters Track Cycling World Championships. The winner, who at the time went by the name Rachel McKinnon and now is known as Veronica Ivy, is a biological male. Wagner-Assali has been outspoken about the unfairness of biological males competing in women’s events.

The bill to protect women’s shelters, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Keim (R-Oxford), would exempt privately owned and operated women’s shelters from public accommodation requirements. Without the exemption, women’s shelters would need to allow biological males who identify as female to share facilities with women who already fear for their safety. Again, the bill faces a tough road.

“There is such great fear of repercussion that not one shelter in Maine will speak up in support of my bill,” Keim wrote in an email to Decision, “and only one shelter worker will take part in the public hearing.” Keim said the shelter worker assumes that her employer, after learning of the worker’s support for Keim’s bill, will either fire her or make her working conditions so intolerable that she will leave.

Keim described the need for the shelter bill this way:

“The women in shelters are emotionally fragile, often victims of domestic violence and rape. Without customary support systems, they are alone. Even if they did possess the mental fortitude to stand up for themselves, which is highly unlikely given their downtrodden life circumstance, they dare not speak the truth because they will be vilified as transphobic and risk losing the only place of belonging, the only tribe, they have. Forcing shelters to house biological men scoffs at common decency, as women become victims to an ideology that must silence truth in its hostile battle for legitimacy.”

Keim is also co-sponsoring a bill that would prohibit physical examinations, surgical procedures, vaccine administrations and drug prescriptions for a minor without the permission of a parent or guardian. A related bill would require that if a health care facility maintains a minor’s records electronically, then those records must be provided to any person who is authorized to access the minor’s health care records. This would be an additional safeguard for parents to be able to direct their children’s health care.

Democrats hold a 7-5 majority over Republicans on the committee, with the final member being an independent who consistently votes liberal on social issues.

Photo: Mihai Andritoiu/Alamy Stock Photo

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