Michigan Democrats, Michigan Republicans — June 19, 2012 at 2:01 pm

UPDATED: Democrat Lesia Liss sides with Republicans, says female Dems are “hurting women”


With friends like these…

Tucked inside the Michigan Democratic Party platform is the following statement:

We believe that women should have access to reproductive medical services and professional advice when they need it. We pledge our support for reproductive freedom, giving a woman the right to make her own choices in this matter. But we respect the individual conscience of each American on this difficult issue. We strongly support family planning, child care, and adoption programs such as those in Governor Granholm’s pregnancy reduction initiative.

However, on a vote last week on legislation that will limit Michigan women’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, six Democrats actually sided with the Republicans and voted for H.B. 5711.

One of these Democrats, the only woman, is Lesia Liss from Warren and, not only did she vote for this legislation, according to Gongwer news service, she is now saying that women like Rep. Lisa Brown, Rep. Barb Byrum and Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer are “making women look bad” (subscription required) and “hurting women”. Additionally, she’s defending her Republican colleagues:

Rep. Lesia Liss, D-Warren, said the dispute over Brown and Byrum not being allowed to speak on the House floor has gotten “out of control” and “turned into a political issue beyond what I could have imagined.” Liss says Republican leaders have been misrepresented in the dispute because they’ve generally allowed substantial debate on topics.

Liss, one of a handful of Democrats to vote in favor of the bill regulating and restricting abortions, said the issue isn’t that Brown said “vagina” on the House floor – it’s how she said it and the context that made it objectionable to some.

That is language right out of the Michigan Republican talking points handbook.

Here’s more:

said the reaction by opponents to Republican leaders’ decision to sanction Brown and Rep. Barb Byrum, D-Onondaga, after Thursday’s debate “isn’t about the legislation. The Democratic Party is using the ‘war on women’ to try to get women to vote; it’s a political ploy.”

“Women need to speak out. I don’t want to see any woman disrespected,” Liss said. “But if you do (speak out), respect the office.”

Liss said the rebuke of Brown and Byrum was relatively mild compared with the way some members have been treated in the past when their comments or conduct offended House leaders.

This is, in fact, incorrect. Never before have legislators been banned from speaking simply because the leadership disagreed with them or didn’t like their tone. Here’s Bill Ballenger, one the foremost authorities on politics and political history in Michigan:

“It’s never happened,” legislative historian and Inside Politics editor Bill Ballenger said. “There is no precedent. There have been altercations in the House and Senate. But the idea of the controlling party, Republican or Democratic, censuring, in a sense, two of its members for speech, literally clamping down on their free-speech rights? It never happened and shouldn’t happen. And, in my view, won’t happen again.”

It strikes me that Liss needs to review the Democratic platform. Democrats, real Democrats, support a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion. They do not vote for regressive legislation that rolls back that access and makes it harder for women to access abortion services. And they certainly do not side with Republicans against their own party, particularly against women who are speaking out on behalf of their constituents.

THIS is not “a political ploy”:

[Photo credit, Chris Savage | Eclectablog]

THIS is women standing up for their rights:

[Photo credit: Anne C. Savage, used with permission.]

Meanwhile, Liss’s husband is quoted in the Detroit Free Press as saying, “When are we going to the Penis Monologues?” Aye, aye, aye…

(The other five Democrats that voted for H.B. 5711 were Charles Brunner, Paul Clemente, Bob Constan, George Darany, Richard LeBlanc, and Roy Schmidt who is not actually considered a Democrat any longer since he betrayed the Democrats and jumped ship last month.)

UPDATE: The Michigan Nurses Association isn’t happy with Rep. Liss. Not at all. They are accusing her of betraying her profession (Liss is an Emergency Room nurse.)

“Lesia Liss is betraying her profession as a nurse by defending leaders who believe women should be silent,” said Katie Oppenheim, a registered nurse at the University of Michigan. “Every good nurse – and most nurses are women – can relate to getting in trouble for speaking up, because we are obligated to advocate for our patients. The idea of a female leader in this day and age saying women should ‘mind their P’s and Q’s’ is appalling. When nurses ‘mind their P’s and Q’s,’ people die.” […]

Liss said in the Capitol newsletter MIRS today that she understands that women need to “mind their P’s and Q’s” and that the uproar over the apparently unprecedented silencing of the two women is an “embarrassment.”

“It’s outrageous that Representative Liss believes that women supporting women is ‘an embarrassment,’” said Oppenheim, who attended the Vagina Monologues performance at the Capitol with thousands of other Michigan residents Monday night. “Frankly, Lesia Liss is an embarrassment to me as a nurse. It’s bad enough that a health care provider voted to endanger women with regressive laws, but for her to speak out in defense of leaders who silence women is reprehensible.”