5:12pm

Thu June 14, 2012
The Two-Way

Michigan State Rep Barred From Speaking After 'Vagina' Comments

Originally published on Sun June 17, 2012 9:17 am

During a heated debate on the floor of the Michigan state House, Rep. Lisa Brown made an impassioned speech against a bill that seeks to put new regulations on abortion providers and ban all abortions after 20 weeks.

Brown, a Democrat, argued that her Jewish faith allowed for therapeutic abortions when the mother's life is in danger without regard to length of pregnancy.

"I have not asked you to adopt and adhere to my religious beliefs. Why are you asking me to adopt yours?" she said. But what came next is what got her in trouble: "And finally, Mr. Speaker, I'm flattered that you're all so interested in my vagina, but 'no' means 'no.'"

The Detroit News reports today the House Republican leadership did not allow Brown to speak on a bill about the retirement of school employees.

The News reports:

"'What she said was offensive," said Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville. 'It was so offensive, I don't even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.'

"Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas, R-Midland, determined Brown's comments violated the decorum of the House, said Ari Adler, spokesman for the Republican majority."

Brown called a press conference, today, the Detroit Free Press reports. She defended her use of the word "vagina," saying it is the "anatomically medically correct term."

"If they are going to legislate my anatomy, I see no reason why I cannot mention it," she said according to the Free Press.

"Regardless of their reasoning, this is a violation of my First Amendment rights and directly impedes my ability to serve the people who elected me into office," Brown added in a statement released by her office.

Brown was not the only woman silenced on the floor today. Rep. Barb Byrum was also not allowed to speak on the floor.

"Byrum, D-Onondaga, caused a disturbance on the House floor Wednesday when she wasn't allowed to introduce an amendment to the abortion regulations bill banning men from getting a vasectomy unless the sterilization procedure was necessary to save a man's life," the Detroit News reports.

Video of the House action was uploaded to YouTube:

Update on June 17 at 11:16 a.m. ET.: Vagina Monolgues:

Brown has announced that in protest, she will perform "The Vagina Monologues" on the steps of the Capitol.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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