House Republicans tried to silence two female Democratic lawmakers Thursday for floor outbursts a day earlier referencing male sterilization and a female sex organ.
The majority party prohibited state Rep. Lisa Brown from speaking on the floor Thursday after she ended a speech the day before against a bill restricting abortions by referencing her female anatomy.
“I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no,’ ” said Brown, D-West Bloomfield.
State Rep. Barb Byrum, D-Onondaga, also wasn’t recognized to speak Thursday for a disturbance she caused on the House floor Wednesday when the GOP majority wouldn’t allow her to propose a ban on men getting a vasectomy unless the sterilization procedure was necessary to save a man’s life.
Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas, R-Midland, made the decision to prevent Brown and Byrum from speaking on any of the slew of bills the House was racing to pass before adjourning for the summer.
As the party in power, the Republicans can decide who gets to speak and what issue — just as the Democrats did to them when they were in power two years ago.
“My concern was the decorum of the House, not of anything she said,” Stamas told The Detroit News.
“I ask all members to maintain a decorum of the House, and I felt it went too far yesterday,” he said.
Speaker Pro Tem John Walsh, R-Livonia, gaveled Brown out of order for saying “no means no” — because it suggested Brown was comparing the abortion legislation to rape, House GOP spokesman Ari Adler said.
“It has nothing to do with the word vagina,” Adler said.
Some male Republican representatives, however, said Brown’s comments were vulgar, “inappropriate” and “offensive.”
“What she said was offensive,” said state 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,” he said.
During a Capitol press conference Thursday, Brown noted “vagina” is the “medically correct term” for the female organ at the center of the Legislature’s ongoing abortion restriction debate.
“If I can’t say the word vagina, why are we legislating vaginas?” Brown said. “What language should I use?
“We’re all adults here.”
House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, would not address the controversy that had become a national news story by late Thursday.
“I think we’ve made plenty of comments about her inappropriate behavior,” Bolger said.
In an appearance on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” Thursday night, Brown maintained she did nothing wrong.
“I followed the House rules,” said Brown, noting the incident has helped her raise campaign donations.
Democrats said the GOP’s action was more evidence of Republicans trampling women’s rights.
“The war on women in Michigan is not fabricated — this is very real — and it comes at the highest levels of state government,” said Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing.