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Lansing, Michigan

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Representatives Brown and Byrum Stand Up For Women; Get Silenced By Conservatives

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This week, during an emotional debate over a pair of bills that would make Michigan’s abortion laws among the most restrictive in the nation, two female State Representatives delivered impassioned pleas for women’s rights. The response from the Republican Majority Floor Leader: be quiet.

Representative Lisa Brown delivered a memorable and nationally reported speech sharply criticizing the conservative majority for overreaching and seemingly targeting the freedom and privacy of women. In addition, Representative Barb Byrum was not allowed to speak about an amendment she offered to the bill that would have required proof of a medical emergency or life-threatening condition before a man could get a vasectomy. Both were gaveled down and told they would not be recognized to publically speak during Thursday’s session.

The majority’s attempt to muzzle elected officials with whom they don’t agree isn’t the first time conservatives have flouted the democratic process. A few months ago, Rachel Maddow discussed how the Michigan Legislature has been granting “immediate effect” to laws it passes in spite of repeated demands for roll call votes. While this might seem like a procedural technicality, the reality is that the majority is simply doing what it wants without regard to the rules.

If you haven’t heard these stories before, you’re not alone. The mainstream media in Michigan has unforgivably failed to report on the issue. Just now are some of the larger news outlets finally recognizing the seriousness of what is happening.