Two women serving in the state House have been barred from participating in floor debates for one day. The sanction is a punishment for things they said during a debate on anti-abortion legislation the previous day on June 13, 2014.
State Representatives Lisa Brown and Barb Byrum are both Democrats. Brown made a reference to her vagina in a floor statement.
“I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina,” she said, “but ‘no’ means ‘no.’”
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.
Byrum shouted at the presiding officer after she was not recognized to speak.
Ari Adler is the spokesman for the House Republican leadership.
“It is the responsibility of every member who serves in the House of Representatives to maintain decorum on the House floor and when they do not do that, there can be actions because of that. And the action today is to not recognize either representative to speak on the House floor,” he said.
Brown was speaking during a debate on anti-abortion bills, and has no apologies for what she said.
“I used an anatomically correct word. I said ‘vagina,'” she said. “Can I not say ‘elbow?’ I don’t see what the difference is.”
This is the first time in memory that lawmakers have been formally barred from participating in floor debates.
Rick Pluta, “Women Reps in Michigan barred from speaking, one for “vagina” mention“, Michigan Radio, June 14, 2012.
Eyder Peralta, “Michigan State Rep Barred From Speaking After ‘Vagina’ Comments“, NPR, June 14, 2012.