Monday, June 18, 2012

Vagina. Can't Say it? Don't Legislate It.

Because Freedom Can't Protect Itself

"I'm flattered you're all so interested in my vagina. But no means no."

With those words, Michigan state representative Lisa Brown told the Speaker of the House exactly what she thought of the vicious anti-choice measure he was trying to push through the legislature.

Here's what happened next. She was banned from speaking as the legislation moved forward. So was another female legislator, Rep. Barb Byrum, who reportedly shouted "vasectomy" out of turn.

They were silenced as the House of Representatives passed war on women legislation that could, among other things, shut down clinics that provide safe, legal abortions and end medication abortions throughout the state.

Silencing female legislators is a direct violation of their First Amendment rights and limits their ability to directly serve the people they represent. We can't let it stand.

Tell leaders of the Michigan Senate to protect freedom of speech and stop silencing women's voices.

Women deserve a seat at the table especially when legislation impacts our bodies and our health. Clearly we have much work to do if using an anatomically correct word causes such moral panic that it derails us from examining the larger issue: women are still being excluded from conversations about women's health.

We can't legislate on reproductive health if we aren't allowed to talk about our bodies. Stand with the ACLU in declaring: If you can't say it, don't legislate it. Remind leaders of the Michigan Senate to protect all of our First Amendment rights and defend women's reproductive health care.
Thanks for taking action,

Kary Moss
Executive Director, ACLU of Michigan
P.S. — This isn't the first time House majority leadership has denied women a voice on the issues that impact us the most. During a committee hearing last week, no woman — nearly 90 were present — was allowed to testify against the bills. Only women in support were given the time to speak out. We must send a message loud and clear: stop silencing women's voices.

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