And the Word of the Week is…

Vagina!

Well, it’s been nearly impossible to ignore the happenings in Michigan over the past week.  But just in case you missed it, here’s a recap.

Last week, the leadership of the Michigan House of Representatives rushed through a bill described as the most restrictive abortion bill in the country. The bill would restrict access to abortions and heavily regulate clinics that provide them, likely causing most of them to close.

Michigan Representative Lisa Brown spoke against the bill. She argued that her Jewish faith allowed for therapeutic abortions when the mother’s life is in danger without regard to length of pregnancy. “I have not asked you to adopt and adhere to my religious beliefs. Why are you asking me to adopt yours?” she said.

In concluding her speech Lisa Brown noted, “Finally, Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no.'”

And that’s when things got really interesting!

Michigan House Republican leadership responded by banning Rep. Brown from speaking on the floor of the House the following day.  A spokesman for Michigan Speaker of the House James Bolger stated that Brown was not allowed to speak because she had “failed to maintain the decorum of the House of Representatives.”

In an interview, Republican Rep. Mike Callton provided clarification. “What she said was offensive,” Callton told The Detroit News. “It was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.”

Wouldn’t say the word ‘vagina’ in front of women? Um, most of us have them, actually.

If the anatomically correct term for a part of female anatomy is not tolerated during a discussion of an abortion bill, what does that mean? Female parts are bad? Dirty? Unmentionable?

Incidents like this show the true colors of anti-abortion activists who would come between a woman and her right to make decisions about her body and her life.

They don’t want women to have a say in affairs that profoundly affect our lives. They want us to be quiet and let them decide what’s best for us. And many of these anti-abortion folks have decision-making powers in our state and national legislatures.

For me, the lesson here is that I need to pay attention to how candidates for political office talk about women’s issues. And, more importantly, do they listen when women speak? Or do they want us to be silent?

What lesson do you take from the Michigan story?

~ Nancy

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