Detroit News Op-Ed
By Frank Beckman
Now that the "Vagina Monologues" stunt participants have aired out their perceived grievances at a well-publicized rally in Lansing, it's time for a realistic discussion of the issue that brought us to this misguided political stunt. That issue is, simply stated, the protection of women's health through better oversight of Michigan abortion clinics.
When the vagina crowd reduced the status of female legislators to objects of their sexual organ, they did a vast disservice to serious legislative discussion, and they engaged in the classic liberal political practice of projection.
"The vaginas are out. We are here to stay," blared Eve Ensler, author of "The Vagina Monologues," at the Monday rally on the Capitol steps.
Lost on the activist was her insult to women who have long sought to be depicted as something more than sex objects.
Ensler took the women's rights movement back decades with her outrageous hyperbole.
The objects of the protest, Representatives Lisa Brown, D-West Bloomfield Township, and Barb Byrum, D-Onondaga, were barred from speaking for a day in the House because floor leader Jim Stamas, R-Midland, found their actions during debate on abortion clinic bills to have broken established rules of decorum. Female Representative Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, voiced strong objections to the legislation on the house floor and was not disciplined. As a result, no logical observer could claim that floor leader Stamas took the action because Brown and Byrum are females.
Rightly or wrongly, he gaveled the pair because Brown made a comment that was perceived to equate the bills with rape and because Byrum muttered some comments on her way back to her desk after she was unable to promote an amendment to include oversight of vasectomies to the legislation being considered.
Since health concerns over vasectomies have not proven problematic — like aborted babies and women's medical records discovered in Dumpsters in Michigan — it's difficult to imagine a valid reason for including such procedures in the oversight bills.
The legislation being discussed was portrayed by critics like Brown and Byrum as an attack on women's rights and an intrusion of their vaginas, even though the bills do nothing to bar or reduce the number of abortions in our state.
Such is the world of liberal projection, the art of ascribing political actions and motives to an opponent when they better describe those of the critic.
The abortion clinic package would impose requirements on the procedure's providers that would require more sanitary conditions, thereby better protecting the health of women.
The bills would also require licensing of clinics, bringing them up to the equal of veterinary facilities, require a humane disposal of aborted babies, stop the dissemination of powerful abortion drugs over the Internet and require abortion doctors to carry high insurance premiums.
Despite the hopes of pro-lifers, abortions will not be halted, even if the current package of bills is passed in Lansing. Representative Lesia Liss, D-Warren, the only female Democratic House member to vote in favor of the bills, said of the political circus over Brown and Byrum, "It's really turning into, I believe, an embarrassment to women, not helping women."
Liss is a nurse by trade, and said on my WJR radio show that she supported the legislation for practical reasons. "I've seen people come in after an abortion, unfortunately, with infections," she said. "Another issue, fetal remains. … We treat pets better than fetal remains, frankly."
There are issues involved in the legislation that deserve serious debate. Do we need another layer of government oversight in the private sector? And should the state force some abortion clinics out of business by the expensive insurance requirement, or is that also a service because it will weed out unscrupulous providers? Liss joined supporters across the aisle in arguing for the benefit of the bills.
"If someone would just sit down and read the bill, line by line, you would see it protects women," Liss told me.
Since Liss and the Republican females who supported the legislation share the same reproductive characteristics of the "Vagina Monologues" crowd, it's time for opponents of the bills to engage in a serious discussion of its merits and avoid the self-defeating spectacle like the one they created this week.
Frank Beckmann is host of “The Frank Beckmann Show” on WJR-AM (760).