Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Michigan lawmaker sparks furor with one word: vagina

Playwright Eve Ensler, second from right, traveled to Michigan for a rally and performance of 'The Vagina Monologues' after state Rep. Lisa Brown, second from left, was barred from speaking.
Playwright Eve Ensler, second from right, traveled to Michigan for a rally and performance of 'The Vagina Monologues' after state Rep. Lisa Brown, second from left, was barred from speaking.

Florida had its uterus controversy. Now Michigan is in the vagina fray.

Michigan Democratic state Rep. Lisa Brown landed in the national spotlight last week after she mentioned the female anatomy while opposing an anti-abortion bill on the House floor.

"Finally Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no,’ " Brown declared.

Brown’s tone and wording rankled House Republicans, who control the chamber and barred her from speaking during debate the following day.

At PolitiFact, the incident struck us as amazingly similar to a dust-up last year in the Florida legislature, when a Democrat decrying Republicans’ desire to deregulate businesses said his wife should "incorporate her uterus" to stop Republicans from pushing measures that would restrict abortions.

Like Brown, Florida state Rep. Scott Randolph got a lesson about just what he could and couldn’t say on the House floor.

Brown’s vagina reference brought playwright Eve Ensler to Lansing for a capitol steps performance of The Vagina Monologues and a rally with abortion rights supporters. And right on cue, the controversy erupted on Twitter and Facebook, where claims about who said what and why have continued to circulate.

We decided to take a look at one of those posts: "Vagina. Because apparently, saying that word in the Michigan State House of Representatives can get you a two-day ban from speaking on the floor." We rated it Mostly True; see our fact-check for all the details.