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Jewish Lawmaker Silenced in Michigan

A Michigan state lawmaker cited her Jewish faith in a floor speech on abortion law that got her silenced for a day because she used the word “vagina.” State Rep. Lisa Brown (D) spoke Wednesday in opposition to proposed laws that would add restrictions to clinics that provide abortions, including hikes in required insurance and additional licensing requirements.

One proposed law would ban abortions after 20 weeks, with what the Detroit News described as a “narrow exception for the mother’s life.” Brown argued that the restrictions violated her religious rights, among others.

“Judaism believes that therapeutic abortions, namely abortions performed in order to preserve the life of the mother are not only permissible, but mandatory,” she said. “The stage of pregnancy does not matter. Wherever there’s a question of the life of the mother or that of the unborn child, Jewish law rules in favor of preserving the life of the mother.” Her conclusion – “And finally Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all interested in my vagina, but no means no.”– got her banned from speaking Thursday on the House floor. “If I can’t say the word vagina, why are we legislating vaginas?” the Detroit News quoted her as saying at a press conference.

The law imposing new requirements on abortion providers passed in the GOP-majority chamver, and the law banning abortions after 20 weeks was postponed for later consideration. The controversy sparked a trend, with one hashtag, #VaginaMovieLines, in which Tweeters would substitute the word in famous movie lines, topping Twitter’s trend list late Thursday.

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