(Stephen C. Webster) A female Democratic state representative in Michigan said Thursday that she has been silenced by her Republican colleagues after she uttered the word “vagina” while criticizing a slate of bills that would restrict female reproductive rights.
Michigan State Rep. Lisa Brown (D) made her comments during a Wednesday debate on proposed legislation that critics say could effectively ban abortions in the state. ”I have not asked you to adopt and adhere to my religious beliefs,” she said. “Why are you asking me to adopt yours? And finally, Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but no means no.”
The legislation, contained in three separate bills, would limit abortions by restricting procedures past 20 weeks of pregnancy, imposing new insurance and licensing requirements on clinics, limiting access to abortion drugs and placing new requirements on the tissue disposal process.
An earlier hearing on the same bills saw representatives from Michigan Planned Parenthood shut out and ignored — an act that attracted hundreds of protesters to the capitol on Tuesday.
Speaking against the bills after being recognized by the House speaker, Rep. Brown relayed a little known fact: Jewish law that places the life of the mother over that of an unborn child, no matter how far along the pregnancy is.
That’s when she dropped the v-word.
House Republican leadership later confirmed to Michigan Radio that they felt her comment violated decorum, and that she would not be called upon in future debates.
A second female Democrat, State Rep. Barb Byrum (D), said that she too has been banned from speaking in recognized debate following an “outburst” over the same slate of legislation.
Video from the Michigan House floor shows Byrum attempting to speak about an amendment to the anti-abortion bills, but the speaker does not recognize her despite her status as the amendment’s author.
Her repeated requests to speak were ignored as Republicans swiftly knocked down the proposal, and she later claimed it was becauseshe had used the word “vasectomy.”Byrum’s amendment would have subjected men’s reproductive rights to the same regulations proposed for women.
Republicans, who hold a powerful majority in the Michigan House and Senate, passed the bills with the help of just six Democrats in a vote Wednesday of 70-39.
Both representatives are now banned from recognized debate for an unspecified amount of time.
Update: Michigan Dem calls on women to withhold sex until legislature backs down
In comments ahead of Wednesday’s vote on restricting female reproductive rights, Michigan State Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D), of Detroit, called on the women of her state to withhold sex from their partners until the legislature backs down.
“We’re launching a war on women,” she said. “Stop having sex with us, gentlemen, and I ask women to boycott men until they stop moving this through the House.”
This video was published to YouTube on June 13, 2012.