Poll: Should Lawmaker be Barred from Speaking after 'Vagina' Remark?

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

A day after state House Rep. Lisa Brown used the word "vagina" while arguing against new abortion legislation, she was prohibited from speaking on the floor about an education bill.

While Brown (D-West Bloomfield), a Jewish mother of three, said she was not given a reason why Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas (R-Midland) barred her from speaking on the education matter Thursday, she assumed it had to do with her earlier remarks that claimed House Bill 5711 forces contradictory religious beliefs upon her and others.

"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.

What got Brown in hot water? Here's what she said:

"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 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.'"

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, The Detroit News reported.

What do you think?

Was Brown's use of the word "vagina" offensive? Did it warrant her being prohibited to speak Thursday? Vote in our poll below and leave your comments, too.

hartland eagle June 16, 2012 at 07:30 PM
The Federal government doesn't pay for abortions, and hasn't since 1977.
leever June 16, 2012 at 08:05 PM
I am really sorry and didnt mean to offend someone when I use the word "organ"" in my posting. Please forgive me dont shut me off. Thanks I beg you
Helen Rieland June 16, 2012 at 08:26 PM
John - the pro-life people are hypocrites too. Do you hear them talking about stopping the death penalty or stopping war. I don't. So it goes both ways. I don't think I would ever have an abortion but I've never been in the situation where I would have to make that decision. I think we need to leave these choices up to the mother, the faher if he is in the picture and the doctors. I do not agree with the current legislation being put through the MI House. I am pro Choice. From what I know the legislation is limiting choice for women and it has nothing to do with the government paying anything. Am I wrong?
Cynthia Wiegand June 17, 2012 at 01:49 AM
This isnt about body parts nor abortion. Its about the Republican party taking away her constitutional right of free speech. I was a diehard Republican for decades but i am not ever going to vote a republican back into an office again. They hate women, nurses teachers, firefighters, EMS and police. They are a strange breed nowdays. I am Going Democratic.
Brad Young June 17, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Knollenberg family is apparently out of touch with reality. That's likely why the old man finally got the boot.
Formula For Fitness June 17, 2012 at 03:02 PM
It sounds like this debate is all about who pays for the abortion. Who will pay for the unwanted child? The tax payers will pay the bill when the uneducated teenage mother and her child receive welfare for 18 years. It cost $230,000 to properly raise a child from birth to 17 years old. I would rather pay for the abortion, The Republicans are very short sighted.
ConcernedParent June 17, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Maybe we should be asking why Right to Life is WRITING legislation for Michigan? How is it appropriate for any outside organization to be drafting our legislation -- particularly one with a faith-based bias? Last time I checked, the United States of America was not a theocracy. Right to Life believes that terminating pregnancy is not an option even in cases of incest and rape. Let's look at the facts here -- almost 90% of terminations are carried out within the first trimester. Less than 3% are carried out in the third trimester, and these are ONLY in cases where the fetus has very severe health issues, or when the life of the mother is seriously threatened. There is no question that this Bill is attempting to make it more difficult for women to make choices about their reproductive health. 1950s, here we come.
ConcernedParent June 17, 2012 at 04:01 PM
OK, everyone should go and read this legislation. Apparently it's bad to coerce anyone into having an abortion (and really, is anyone going to argue with this?!), but coercing people into giving birth to a child who will be dependent on them for the next 21 or more years is just fine and dandy. Also it's OK for private lobbying groups to give medical advice, and to dictate to the medical profession how to treat their patients. This Bill dictates to doctors what they must do, what they should say, even if the medical information is nonsense. Seriously, people -- this is not OK. Where is the small government the Republicans seem to want? Where is the freedom they claim we should all have? The personal choice? Instead you want religious lobbying groups to TELL OUR DOCTORS what they should do? Does no one see that this is not a good path to follow?
Marla Swartz June 18, 2012 at 12:37 PM
No means no, is not a joke Mack. just saying it is, is a problem right there. As a woman I'm affended that a man would believe "NO MEANS NO" is a joke or a refernce to one. No means no means no matter how hot and heavy things might have gotten, you do NOT have permission to have sex with someone. We definately need some laws about penis's. That's for sure. Vagina is the correct name for a woman's body part, what else would you expect someone to call it? A slang word? Vagina has everything to do with that topic Lisa was speaking about.
Marla Swartz June 18, 2012 at 12:40 PM
John, you have more than alot of nerve and how dare you call any president that won with majority of the vote a dictator! We need alot more laws for penis's and their owners actions with those in this country if we can't get the right to decide what a woman can or can not do with her own body.
Marla Swartz June 18, 2012 at 12:42 PM
No means no, is not a joke Mack. just saying it is, is a problem right there. As a woman I'm affended that a man would believe "NO MEANS NO" is a joke or a refernce to one. No means no means no matter how hot and heavy things might have gotten, you do NOT have permission to have sex with someone. We definately need some laws about penis's. That's for sure. Vagina is the correct name for a woman's body part, what else would you expect someone to call it? A slang word? Vagina has everything to do with that topic Lisa was speaking about. Every woman reading your comment no matter what party she belongs to should be offended by your comment and I'm sure any with any self worth are.
Kevin Moser June 18, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Just one more great example of the parties doing everything but what we elected them to do. I really wish people would consider the extremists of both parties in Lansing as well as D.C. not working together to get sometyhing done instead of giving attention to things like this to grab headlines. They certainly are not doing what we elected them to do.
Herb Helzer June 18, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Lisa Brown, Rashida Tlaib and Gretchen Whitmer are true progressive leaders, setting examples that more Democrats at all levels should follow. The good news is that all three (and others such as Rebekah Warren and Jocelyn Benson) are at the relative BEGINNING of their careers. We will hear more from these strong women long after the Republican men who tried to shame, mock and silence them are reduced to political footnotes.
Herb Helzer June 18, 2012 at 04:28 PM
I'm pretty sure they did...and reached the conclusion that the pigs only failed because they didn't go far enough.
Herb Helzer June 18, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Ah, yes, the fig leaf of bipartisanship. That is the true failure of the six Democrats who voted with all but one Republican for HB 5711. They may have thought that voting "Yes" made no difference in the bill's passage -- 64-45 or 70-39 -- but that doing so might prevent inflaming emotions back in their districts for the upcoming election. Uunfortunately, their shortsightedness gives the increasingly arrogant Republicans the ability to claim "bipartisan" support for a deeply offensive, poorly-written bill that is a blatant attempt to outlaw what remains a legal medical procedure with nitpicking, regulations and inserting bureaucracy between doctors and patients. And it won't win any of them a single additional vote in their districts -- Republicans will never accept them no matter how they voted this one time, and Democrats will now be leery of helping them.
Herb Helzer June 18, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Depends on whether your community or school district can avoid imposition of an EM Czar -- which of course depends on whether the Supreme Court will allow the voters to settle the matter, or cast yet another hyper-partisan 4-3 vote to shred precedent, disenfranchise a quarter-million voters (who signed the Repeal PA 4 petitions), and further diminish the Court's legitimacy as objective arbiters of the laws and Constitution of the State of Michigan.
Herb Helzer June 18, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Welcome, Cynthia! If you happen to live in Northville and have some free time this evening, the Northville Democratic Club is meeting at 7:00 p.m. at the Cady Inn at Mill Race Village (off Griswold). We'd love to meet you!
Herb Helzer June 18, 2012 at 05:07 PM
It is particularly revealing how the party that supposedly champions smaller government and less regulation is legislating the exact OPPOSITE in this bill. Just for starters in HB 5711, we see: An entirely new bureaucracy for the preservation and treatment of fetal remains -- new forms to be completed and tracked, new regulations for burial or cremation, even the involvement of funeral homes (perhaps they expect a brisk sale in shoebox-sized coffins and thimble-sized urns); Mandatory minimums for malpractice insurance imposed on doctors -- which is particularly interesting given how Sen. Roger Kahn (an incompetent cardiologist before he became a blowhard right-wing hack) wants to make malpractice all-but-impossible to prove or litigate in Michigan. Mandatory involvment of law enforcement in the interrogation of pregnant women that they're not being coerced, and in the investigation of any stillborn babies or miscarriages that occur in the fifth month of pregnancy or later. Don't our police officers have enough on their plates as is? New and onerous regulations on clinics designed solely to force many of them to close. But as we know from GOP rhetoric, new regulations ALWAYS mean more bureaucrats to inspect facilites, write reports, enforce the new law...and kill jobs. Odd. This law, like so many others imposed on the State since January 2011, is hypocritical and intentionally punitive. Only by taking back the Michigan House can this blood-red wave be stopped.
Herb Helzer June 18, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Party, Kevin. Not "parties." I totally reject the false argument that "both sides are to blame" in what has happened in Lansing since January 2011. Democrats do not hold a single statewide office, control neither the House nor the Senate, and even when they manage to challenge some of the more onerous legislation, there are four hyper-partisan Republican Supreme Court justices to quell even that hope for redress. Fortunately, three Supreme Court seats are up for election this November. You want to punish partisan hacks what "are not doing what we elected them to do?" Start with the Michigan Supreme Court by sayiing NO to the incumbents and YES to the "Three Supremes" -- Johnson, Kelley and McCormack.
KK June 18, 2012 at 06:53 PM
How would a man be sued for sexual harassment for saying "you're all so interested in my penis, but 'no' means 'no'? As a lawyer I see NO grounds whatsoever for sexual harassment from this statement, especially in the context of a legislative debate. Please provide a citation for the case law or statute you relied on when you formed this conclusion.
KK June 18, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Does anyone really think Stamas forbid Lisa Brown from speaking because he was offended? That is ludicrous. I have spent a lot of time around male legislators and they use much more foul language, even during debate. This was an excuse to shut down people who have a contrary opinion and was particularly patronizing to women.
KK June 18, 2012 at 07:12 PM
I was a Republican for years but I too have switched over. The Republican party has gone off the deep end in the ways you mention and so many more. It has become a closed minded, anti-scientific, environment destroying, male oriented, gun toting cult that is too busy sucking up to the Koch Brothers and other major donors to care what constituents want.
laplateau June 19, 2012 at 03:39 PM
To all you so-called progressive democarts out there ( as well as those that appear to be men haters), Lisa brown's coments were inapproproiate because it had NO relativity to the issues being dicussed...whcih were simply a proposed bill that would limit abortios nAFTER 20 weeks! To te up on the floor and say...I am paraphrasing..."it's so nice to know you are so intrerested in my vagina". What the hell does that have to do with abortion or the bill being discussed?? No one was referring to vaginas..or penis's for that matter. It had to do with the innocent fetus within a prgnant women...living and wih a heart beat, and certainly nothing to do with what was between Brown's legs. And what is "no means no" supposed to refer to? If a women does not want to become pregnant there are many ways to prevent it, but the most effective way is to simply keep her legs together.
David Weaver June 19, 2012 at 03:51 PM
You are painting all Republican men with a broad brush Glenn. That's like saying all women who dress provocatively are asking for trouble. Both are wrong.
Cathy Fucinari June 19, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Her elbow doesn't give birth, you moron. She is not supporting killing anyone. She is supporting the right to control your own body, without the interference of someone else's religion. Both parents don't give birth. Only the mother. It is her body, and any tissue inside of it is part of HER body. No one else's. No one is asking anyone to pay for their healthcare in this issue, and payments are not part of this legislation. She was asking you to get out of the way. This has nothing to do with democrats. Republican women have vaginas too, or haven't you ever noticed? Talk about needing to get a clue!!!
Cathy Fucinari June 19, 2012 at 05:21 PM
I don't hate men. I only intensely dislike ignorant people. If the show fits......
Debra L. Van Buren June 20, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Rep. Lisa Brown's comment(s) were blown way out of proportion. She has the right to express herself, and I do not feel she was inappropriate in her remarks. Women have rights, too. Any penalties against her are totally unjustifiable in my opinion. She is being blamed merely for taking a stand on a very important woman's issue. Mentioning the word "vagina" should not be construed as offensive by any means in today's society. Women have come a long way . . . Those who deem her comment(s) as offensive and/or objectionable, ought to reconsider the issue, as she is only taking a "bold" stand in favor of women's rights. I defend her action(s) 100% and agree with her philosophy. Times have changed, and those who deem her comment(s) as objectional, must understand that we are living in America. Freedoms exist, and I applaud her for taking such a bold stand.
laplateau June 21, 2012 at 06:55 PM
You still don't seem to get it. Probably because your liberality just gets in the way of your common sense. I guess she has the right to stand up on the floor of the house of represenatives and say "vagina" as many times as she likes and sound like the frustrated women she is...but what good is that if it has NOTHING to do with the issue at hand?? Her vagina has nothing to do with abortion. Who does she t hink is trying to legisslate anythin g abouyt her vagina. It has nothing to do with the debate at hand. She was just trying to be so very "progressive" by using that word. It only shows her limited ability to experss herself by using inappropriate verbiage and accusing someone (a man) of having undue intrest in her genitals. My god--what's wrong with you people? And..Ms Fucinari---it's SHOE, not show! I think you just might have an intense diislike about most anything.
ann galen June 21, 2012 at 07:36 PM
There is nothing wrong with the word vagina, I learned it in anatomy class. However, the comment sounded stupid, and she made the comment to get attention, not because the comment made any sense - which it didnt. As far as "a woman voluntarily giving up her own life in order to save the life of her own child", every mother I know would do so............without hesitation. We must travel in very different circles.
Cathy Fucinari June 21, 2012 at 08:59 PM
This response is for Ann Galen: You could say we travel in different circles. You don't even live in Michigan. You live in Florida.


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