Two women representatives were indefinitely barred from speaking during Michigan House debates yesterday by Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas during one debate about a highly contentious omnibus abortion bill.
One of the offenders, State Representative Barb Byrum (D), was barred for shouting at the presiding officer after he refused to give her the floor, despite her repeated requests to speak. The other barred representative, Lisa Brown (D), suspects that she is being punished for using the word “vagina.” At the end of an impassioned speech against the measure in question—which, among other provisions, bans all abortions after 20 weeks, without exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother—Brown said “I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no.’” (See the video above for full remarks and reactions.)
Stamas hasn’t said what specifically offended him — only that the women did not maintain decorum on the floor — but Brown and her supporters argue that the majority leader was put off by her use of an “anatomically correct word.”
“Apparently, “vagina” is another v-word that Must Not Be Named. Like Voldemort,” Brown told Jezebel.com’s Gloria Erin Ryan.
Michigan Radio reports that “this is the first time in memory that lawmakers have been formally barred from participating in floor debates.”
MORE: The Vagina Dialogue