Thousands of protesters, including a Tony-winning writer, demonstrated in front of the Michigan state capitol on Monday evening to voice their opposition to a slate of bills that would impose dramatic new restrictions on female reproductive rights.
Among them was State Rep. Lisa Brown (D), who was silenced by Republican leadership in a recent House debate after she used the word “vagina” in testimony opposing the bills. Michigan Republicans maintained that they banned Brown from debate not because of the word “vagina,” but because of what followed it — the phrase “no means no” — which they said was a reference to “rape.”
“I think they’ve put out six different statements as to what it was [they banned me for], seeing what sticks,” Brown told Michigan ABC News affiliate WXYZ. “Women and men are outraged about the silencing. It probably doesn’t matter what it was.”
Brown was joined by State Rep. Barb Byrum (D), who was similarly banned when she tried to speak in favor of an amendment that would have applied the same limitations to men seeking to have a vasectomy. They have both since had their right to debate on the House floor restored.
The lawmakers were greeted at the capitol on Monday evening by none other than Eve Ensler, writer of “The Vagina Monologues,” whose presence helped attract an audience of more than 2,500 people, men and women alike.
“If we ever knew deep in our hearts that the issue about abortion … was not really about fetuses and babies, but really men’s terror of women’s sexuality and power, I think it’s fully evidenced here,” she told The Associated Press. “We’re talking about the silencing of women, we’re talking about censoring people for saying a body part. Half of these people who are trying to regulate vaginas, they can’t even say the word.”
This video is from Michigan ABC News affiliate WXYZ in Lansing, broadcast Monday, June 18, 2012.
Screenshot via ABC News affiliate WXYZ.