Michigan House Republicans blocked a state representative from speaking on the floor on Thursday after she referenced certain parts of female anatomy in a speech on an abortion bill.
“Finally, Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no,’” Rep. Lisa Brown (D) said to cap her remarks in which she expressed stark opposition to a series of bills regulating abortion, including one that would ban the procedure after 20 weeks unless the woman’s life was in danger, according to The Detroit News.
House Republicans called the remarks over the line and barred her from participating in a subsequent debate on education.
“It was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women,” one state representative said. “I would not say that in mixed company.”
But Brown was defiant, accusing her colleagues of trying to censor her with their sensitive take on acceptable decorum.
“If I can’t say the word vagina, why are we legislating vaginas?” Brown said at a press conference. “What language should I use?”
A second lawmaker, Rep. Barb Byrum (D), was also gaveled down after introducing a bill that would require men to prove that their life was in danger before they were allowed to receive a vasectomy.
“I was ignored by the majority floor leader and not allowed to speak on my amendment, which would have held the same standards for men and women when it comes to legal, voluntary procedures in reproductive health, and now I am being silenced for standing up for women,” Byrum said, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Here’s video of the Brown speech that caused the stir:
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.