Watch CBS News

Michigan Rep. Censored For Use Of 'V-Word'

LANSING (WWJ) - A West Bloomfield state representative has been censored for comments she made during a House of Representatives session.

Reporting live on WWJ Newsradio 950, Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick, called it a "certified freedom of speech issue."

Skubick said Rep. Lisa Brown, a Democrat, was told by House Republican leaders she could not participate in debate Thursday because she used the word "vagina" during a discussion about abortion legislation the day before.

Her words on the House floor Wednesday were: "And, finally, Mr. Speaker -- I'm flattered that you're so interested in my vagina, but no means no."

In an interview with Skubick, Brown defended her comments.

"I used an anatomically correct word. I said 'vagina.' Is there something wrong with that? Can I not say 'elbow? I don't see what the difference is," Brown said.

"If that is the problem, really ... If you can't talk and you can't talk and you can't use the word 'vagina' -- why are you legislating about vaginas?"

A spokesperson for the House Speaker said it was "unprofessional conduct" and her "offensive comments" disrupted the decorum of the House.

Rep. Barb Byrum, a Democrat from Onondaga, was also gaveled down and reprimanded after she attempted to begin a debate on her amendment on the same issue.

"There were actions by Representative Byrum on the floor involving shouting in the chamber that also failed to maintain decorum," said House Speaker spokesman Ari Adler.

WWJ spoke with Bobbie Walton, president of the Michigan chapter of the National Association for Women.

"I think the word 'decorum' and the word 'professionalism' are open-ended words. You can define them any way you want to," Walton said. "One person's decorum is perhaps another person's gag order."

Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing and Senator Rebekah Warren or Ann Arbor, later Thursday, released a video message denouncing what they call "recent attacks on women made by the Republican-led legislature."

"The war on women is unfortunately all too real and nowhere is that more evident than at the highest levels of Michigan's government," said Whitmer. "Republicans have proven beyond any measure that they are not only willing to play politics with the health of women throughout Michigan, but that they are willing to go so far as to take away our right to speak out for ourselves. The only question remaining is what's next? Taking away women's right to vote?" (View the video).

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.