GOP Tactics on House Floor Silence Women Legislators for Fighting Back

Brown, Byrum banned from speaking on House Floor in final legislative session day
Thursday, June 14, 2012

LANSING - Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas (R-Midland) today banned two Democratic women legislators from speaking on the House Floor as the House of Representatives takes up its final legislation before the summer recess. State Representatives Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield) and Barb Byrum (D-Onondaga) were not told why the ban was put in place, but it is widely believed it stems from their opposition to radical anti-choice legislation that passed the House yesterday.

“Both Representative Byrum and I were gaveled down without cause yesterday while voicing our opposition to the Republican’s war on women here in Michigan, “said Rep. Brown. “Regardless of their reasoning, this is a violation of my First Amendment rights and directly impedes my ability to serve the people who elected me into office. I was either banned for being Jewish and rightfully pointing out that House Bill 5711 was forcing contradictory religious beliefs upon me and any other religion. Or it is because I said the word ‘vagina’ which is an anatomically, medically correct term. If they are going to legislate my anatomy, I see no reason why I cannot mention it.”

HB 5711 which passed 70-39 with one Representative abstaining addresses treatment of fetal remains, coercive abortion screening, physician liability and rules for certain abortion facilities.

HB 5711 will:

  • Institute an onerous and bureaucratic licensing and regulatory process and enact expensive new fees intended to shut down many clinics.
  • Invade the important and sacred doctor/patient relationship by requiring new screenings to determine if a woman is being coerced.
  • Creates another new windfall for insurance companies by requiring doctors to carry $1 million in medical liability insurance even though liability coverage limits are not mandated in state law for any other medical practices.
  • Could ultimately eliminate most women’s access to reproductive healthcare facilities by forcing the vast majority of clinics to close and discourage doctors from practicing in Michigan.

“My Democratic colleagues and I of both sexes offered amendments to this legislation written to appease special interests,” said Rep. Byrum. “I was ignored by the majority floor leader and not allowed to speak on my amendment which would have held the same standards for men and women when it comes to legal, voluntary procedures in reproductive health and now I am being silenced for standing up for women. This is yet another example of this Republican majority’s misogynistic and cowardly tactics.”

House Bill 5711 will now be sent to the Senate but most likely not be taken up until the fall. A press conference was held in conjunction with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan and Representatives Byrum and Brown at the Capitol today.