There is No "Michigan 'Don't Say Vagina' Bill"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 26 2012 11:39 AM

There is No "Michigan 'Don't Say Vagina' Bill"

Kay Steiger's story here reminds me that a not-too-convincing pro-choice argument has been much advanced this year. The headline: "'Don’t say vagina’ bill faces vote in Michigan senate committee." The gist:

A controversial anti-abortion Michigan bill that prompted Rep. Lisa Brown (D) to be banned from the house floor for saying the word "vagina" faces a vote in the state’s senate committee on Thursday... Her objections to the bill prompted Rep. Brown to say, "I’m flattered you’re all so concerned about my vagina. But no means no." Republicans then banned her and another Democrat from speaking on the floor, saying her use of the word “vagina” was a violation of “decorum.”
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At this point, I hope we all agree that a debate about a medical procedure -- abortions, in this case -- should include some usage of medical terms. It cuts both ways. Tom Coburn has taken a lot of unwarranted flack for actually describing STDs when he talks about them in closed meetings about STDs. Fie on the Republicans for shutting up Brown. That doesn't save "keep away from my vagina" from being a distracting, wrong complaint about the bill being debate. The official legislative analysis of the bill is here. As Steiger points out, it regulates abortion providers, fetus disposal, and what to do "if a patient discloses coercion to abort or that domestic violence is occurring." This isn't like the debate over HPV vaccinations, which get waylaid by slut-shaming arguments about whether young girls should have sex. It's about the termination of pregnancies.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.