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Update: Lawmaker Barred from Speaking After 'Vagina' Remark

Rep. Lisa Brown of West Bloomfield referenced her Jewish faith and personal anatomy arguing against legislation restricting abortion.

Updated: June 15, 8:26 a.m.

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State House Rep. Lisa Brown said she was not told why she was prohibited from speaking on the floor Thursday about an education bill, though she assumed it had to do with her referencing her vagina in a speech against new abortion legislation.

Brown (D-West Bloomfield), a Jewish mother of three, was barred from speaking after she claimed House Bill 5711 forces contradictory religious beliefs upon her and others.

"Wherever there is a question of the life of the mother or that of the unborn child, Jewish law rules in favor of preserving the life of the mother," Brown said on the floor Wednesday. "I have not asked you to adopt and adhere to my religious beliefs. Why are you asking me to adopt yours?"

"Finally, Mr. Speaker, I'm flattered that you're all so interested in my vagina, but 'no' means 'no.'"

Brown, who was banned along with Rep. Barb Byrum (D-Onondaga), said that they were not told the reason for the ban which kept them from speaking on a school employee retirement bill. 

"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 said in a release.

The Detroit News reported that Brown's comments, with the use of the word "vagina", violated decorum of the House, according to spokesperson for the Republican majority.

House GOP spokesperson Ari Adler tweeted, "2 Reps. aren't being recognized to speak today because of their actions. Has nothing to w/gender, religion or topic."

Brown pointed out that "vagina" is the "medically correct term."

"If they are going to legislate my anatomy, I see no reason why I cannot mention it."

The House passed HB 5711, 70-39 with one Representative abstaining. The bill bans abortions after 20 weeks with an exception for the life of the mother.

Alan Stamm June 15, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Though calendars say 2012, some Republicans in the Michigan House act and speak as though it were 1952. Rep. Mike Callton of Barry County, quoted by The News, is a case in point: "What she said was offensive. It was so offensive, I don't even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company." When is the last time you heard "in mixed company"? I thought that went out with "the gentle sex" and "women's delicate sensibilities." Imagine being represented by Rep. Callton .. . or married to him/
Samantha June 15, 2012 at 12:54 AM
I'm a little disappointed there's no viewpoint from the Floor Leader represented in this article. As I've heard it, Rep. Brown broke decorum for by questioning the motives of the bill's supporters and is trying to play the victim by spinning that she was banned for saying vagina instead.
Charles Gaba June 15, 2012 at 01:46 AM
I'm sure he'd get the vapors if anyone wanted to talk about "female plumbing" or "a visit from their monthly friend".
Charles Gaba June 15, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Oh nonsense. The GOP leadership STATED that it was the dreaded "V" word that caused them to get the vapors: From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120614/POLITICS02/206140467#ixzz1xp3nDMo8 "Brown's comment prompted a rebuke Thursday by House Republicans, who wouldn't allow her to voice her opinion on a school employee retirement bill. "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." Brown's comments were published in Thursday's Detroit News. 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." Really?? It was OFFENSIVE to use the medically accurate term for a part of the body? I suppose it'd be even worse to use a slang term. Gosh, I guess no guy named "Dick" or "Johnson" can ever be allowed to say their name on the House floor... And forcing a woman to give birth even if doing so could kill or permanently cripple her is a hell of a lot more of a violation of decorum than anything she said.
Alan Stamm June 15, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Rep. Brown v. Republican men is getting wide national attention, with coverage and commentaries on ABC, NPR, The Atlantic, Rachel Maddow's blog, Politico, Jezebel, New York Mag and The Daily Dish. Stay tuned for Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert and SNL?
Rachel Miller June 15, 2012 at 01:29 PM
I imagine Rep. Brown knew exactly what she was doing. And if she didn't, perhaps she should read up on the rules of house floor conduct. She wanted her 15 minutes of Sandra Fluke fame. And now she can perpetuate the narrative from the left that Republicans have a war on women. At the same time, the Republicans shouldn't feign such abhor at the use of a word. That's ridiculous. I'm don't get what all the fuss was anyway, from my understanding the law prohibited abortions after 20 weeks, with an EXCEPTION for the life of the mother. Wasn't that her argument... unless the mothers life was in jeopardy?
Beth Ayers June 15, 2012 at 02:18 PM
This is not about fame! This about women rights, and I for one will not roll over in submission because some men have inflated egos and think they control women! I applaud all those who stood up and representative women because it simply was the right thing to do. A job well done Ladies! I am proud of you.
Jim Sparks June 15, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Well, the Tea Party parrots have squawked again... Calling Sandra Fluke a "wh..." simply because she spoke up for women's right to equal health care coverage is sophomoric at best. Now, they try and smear a representative for speaking up about government intrusion into her (and other women's) own bodies. "Rules of house floor conduct"?? Right. Simply mentioning a body part in it's correct anatomical reference somehow besmirches the gravitas of the august House of Representatives. It is to laugh. Give us all a break!
Kathy June 15, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Please. Let's get down to the real facts here. Has anyone 'googled' pictures of a 20 week old fetus? Until you do, please refrain from comment. Are you trying to tell me a woman, any woman, hasn't had enough time to contemplate if she wants or needs this abortion? I could understand 8 weeks, 12 weeks--you might not really know (or want to believe) that you're pregnant. By 20 weeks a woman is 5 months along in a 9 month gestation period. What was she waiting for? The Legislature, both sides, are not disagreeing with a woman's right to an abortion. I think they are saying that at some point, some one needs to speak up for the little guy.
Neal Charness June 16, 2012 at 03:18 AM
The Republican leadership hasn't a scintilla of integrity on this one. Rep Brown told the truth, used proper language, and embarrassed the Republicans who were trying to take away womens' rights under the guise of protecting their interests. Now they're getting lots of blow back and they're trying to make it Lisa Brown's fault. These guys should read Animal Farm instead of Animal House. What an embarassment for Michigan.
Karen M Faett June 16, 2012 at 09:42 PM
I am embarrassed and appalled that my current representative has such a cavelier attitude about rules of decorum and decency. I am further discusted by her display in furtherance of abortion for strangers when she treated her own aide who chose to have a baby so shably. The silver lining for me is that Brown's days as my legislator are numbered, and I am confident the voters of Oakland County will not support this divisive self promotor for County Clerk. I will deal with being a disgusted constituent of her legislative district, but I will make every effort available to me that she is soundly defeated.
Karen M Faett June 17, 2012 at 03:43 AM
Please define Woman's Rights" for the readers. Rep Brown grandstanded and now the spectacle continues because someone who starred in a play years ago supported her? Michigan residents hopefully have "rights" in that those elected should be expected to follow rules. Ms Brown knew exactly what she was doing and it doesn't help to convince anyone she would benefit us in the county clerk''s office.
Neal Charness June 18, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Hey folks...Look at all of Karen Faett's posts. Part of the local Republican organization--her right, of course, but to start taking shots at Lisa Brown is absurdly partisan here. More Republican "integrity."
Qbn Import August 08, 2012 at 10:19 PM
I don't think Ms. Brown's one sentence broke any rules of decorum. She expressed her view without using foul or offensive language. Her comment sounds a bit impassioned to make a point, and it sounds like the men were put off that she made a salient one at that. They sound envious and flustered that she trumped their desire to control women's bodies with logic and common sense. Rather than accepting this, they decided ddecided to take away a privilege that has nothing to do with her "offence" the way a bad parent would. Juvenile indeed.

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