Target: Michigan House Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas
Goal: Apologize for silencing woman lawmakers on the Michigan House floor
Throughout the recent debates regarding reproductive rights, women have had to fight to have their voices heard despite being directly affected by the legislation in question. Male lawmakers have dominated discussions on abortion, contraceptive access and other women’s health issues. On Wednesday, Michigan House Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas even saw fit to silence two woman representatives for expressing their views on crucial reproductive legislation.
Rep. Lisa Brown and Rep. Barb Byrum were silenced for their exasperated comments on a proposed anti-choice abortion bill. Forbidden to speak for the rest of the day, they came in on Thursday to find that Stamas still would not even allow them to deliver speeches on issues unrelated to the abortion bill. Stamas has not explained to these representatives when he will lift the ban on their participation on the House floor, nor has he apologized for blocking their input on key issues.
In the continuing discussions on women’s reproductive rights, it’s more important than ever that women themselves have a say in the legislation that governs their own bodies. Stamas’s decision to silence Brown and Byrum indefinitely simply for opposing an anti-choice bill is yet another example of the repression and disenfranchisement of women that pollutes discussions on reproductive freedom. Tell Rep. Stamas that women’s voices need to be heard. Urge him to allow Brown and Byrum to speak on the House floor again–and to apologize for his immature, indefensible actions.
Dear Rep. Jim Stamas,
In the ongoing discussion of reproductive rights, no one’s voices are more important than women’s. Legislation that governs women’s bodies should not be designed and implemented primarily by men. Removing women’s voices from the discussion disempowers them and subjects them to patriarchal control.
By silencing Rep. Brown and Rep. Byrum during a discussion of an anti-choice abortion bill, you and your fellow Republican lawmakers only enforced the idea that women do not have the right to participate in the governing of their own bodies. Legislators have claimed in your defense that these women were barred from speaking due to their emotional comments, but such speaking bans are rarely enforced on men who express visible outbursts on the house floor. To exile these women from the place where their voices are needed most infantilizes them and enforces a dangerous, damaging paradigm where women are second-class citizens stripped of the rights to make decisions about their own bodies.
I demand that you apologize to Rep. Brown and Rep. Byrum for silencing their voices during this pivotal discussion and to lift the ban on their participation immediately. These women deserve the same respect from the House as any other representative.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: S. Falkow via Flickr.