Lansing, Michigan


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David Mittleman
David Mittleman
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Vagina, Voice, Vote!

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I recently wrote about how Republican lawmakers silenced Democratic representatives Lisa Brown and Debbie Stabenow after they spoke out against two bills that would make Michigan's abortion laws some of the most restrictive in the nation. That incident was appalling, to say the least, but this isn't the first time that Republicans have attempted to silence those who disagree with their position. For example, a few weeks ago another incident occured when Representative Gail Hines prevented representatives from Planned Parenthood, 90 doctors, and others from speaking out against legislation aimed at limiting women's access to reproductive healthcare by ending a legislative hearing early (and not so ironically just after a Right to Life spokesperson testified).

In protesting the anti-abortion laws, Lisa Brown stated: "Mr. Speaker, I am flattered that you are all so interested in my vagina, but 'no' means 'no'." Her statement was deemed inappropriate by Republicans and she was forbidden from speaking on the floor when the House moved on to a school funding bill. But advocacy groups are speaking out against these types of silencing tactics since the incident went viral on the Internet. Eve Ensler, the writer of the famous Vagina Monologues play, voiced her solidarity when 2,500 Michigan protestors gathered yesterday on the Capitol steps to hear readings from the play.

But the Republicans aren't done just yet–while they may have moved past vaginas for the time being, they are already hard at work preventing the most vulnerable from having their say in politics just like when they silenced Brown. For example, before "Vagina-gate" erupted, they were already passing legislation that would make it more difficult to vote in MIchigan and would force churches, schools and community groups to undergo intensive training and paperwork requirements that would make it more difficult and expensive to register voters. The effect is essentially toughest on women, minorities, the young and low-income voters who are more likely to register at voter registration organizations. Not suprisingly, many of these same people are Democrats. It appears that Republicans in Michigan will go to any length to silence those who oppose their narrow-minded viewpoints and agendas and the best way to avoid being silenced is to get out there and vote!