People Rally To Demand Apology For Brown/Byrum, Bring Policy Concerns (Gongwer)

Published July 18, 2012 on Gongwer.


Published: 07.18.12| Updated: 07.27.12

Liberal activists gathered at the Capitol on Wednesday to rally for their concerns about legislation they said would hurt women and also for demand an apology from House Republicans.

Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America members gathered outside the Capitol to listen to a speech from Rep. Barb Byrum (D-Onondaga), who was banned from speaking on the House floor June 14 along with Rep. Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield), after shouting "vasectomy" as she walked away from the podium following a floor speech against an anti-abortion bill. Ms. Brown used the word "vagina" in her speech during the debate.

Later, participants entered the building to deliver more than 115,000 petition signatures to House Speaker Jose Bolger demanding an apology.

Demonstrators protest legislation pushed by legislative Republicans.

"The House Republicans silenced two female legislators last month because we dared voice our opposition to a bill that directly impacts my health, the health of all Michigan women. They thought they could simply sweep this extreme anti-choice bill under the rug, but they were wrong," Ms. Byrum said.

She said that the House Republicans' strategy is to silence those who do not agree with them.

"It is my sincere hope that in my lifetime, we'll see a day when little girls can grow up and be seen as equal in the workplace around their male counterparts," Ms. Byrum said.

Mary Pollock, the legislative vice president for the Michigan National Organization for Women, also participated in the rally and said she is still upset about the House Health Policy Committee approving the abortion legislation (HB 5711) without much testimony from the public.

"I was so mad about that," she said. "We're here to tell them that we are watching, we vote, and we'll never give up."

HB 5711 would ban the coercion of women into having abortions and require physicians providing abortions to carry substantial liability insurance in certain situations.

In response to the petition, Ari Adler, the spokesperson for Mr. Bolger, said, "There's no plan to issue an apology."

"Democrats are carrying the issue as a distraction, so that they don't need to talk about real issues, which are reforming economy," Mr. Adler said.

RALLY FOR POLICY CONCERNS: Women from varied groups also gathered at the Capitol on Wednesday to rally on their concerns about women-related bills, and hoping to make their voices heard by legislators.

Michigan Women's Power Assembly, the organizer of the rally, said in a statement that women believe the state Legislature has the wrong priorities and their actions have and will continue to hurt millions of Michigan women and their families during these tough economic times. Therefore, women are raising their voices to express their concerns.

Danielle Atkinson, director of Mothering Justice, said that women should raise their voices and let the lawmakers know what they want and how the representatives are not representing them.

"We march today, and we run tomorrow," Ms. Atkinson said.

Renee Chelian, executive director of the Northland Family Planning, said, "There's no medical justification for anti-abortion laws. These laws will not make abortion safer for anyone, because it is already safe.".

"We need you to tell your senators to stop this bill," she said, "Our lives are not political choice."

Emily Dievendorf, director of Policy at Equality Michigan, said "today is about action."

"We all deserve to access to our democracy," she said that people need to be heard about the policies on equal pay, the environment, motherhood, family planning, equality for all regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Other organizations that attended the rally include Michigan NOW, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, Coalition of Labor Union Women, United Steelworkers, Michigan Nurses Association, Breastfeeding Mothers Unite, among others.

But Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will consider HB 5711 in September, said he supports the legislation.

"I think they are all reasonable and not controversial," he said, also referring to HB 5712 and HB 5713, which remain in the House.

In response to the clinical license bill, he said there's no reason to operate a clinic without a license, and he doesn't think the bill is controversial at all.

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