“Pregnant people” is an emerging woke term used to suggest pregnancy is not necessarily a function of the female gender.
In California, state Senators Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and Anna Caballero (D-Merced) introduced SB 1142, which would offer taxpayer funding for abortions to both residents and nonresidents, makes multiple references to “pregnant people.” The most glaring example in the five-page bill states “If the United States Supreme Court overturns the protections under Roe v. Wade, people in over one-half of the states in the country, over 36,000,000 women and other people who may become pregnant, will lose access to abortion care [emphasis added].”
The term “pregnant people” is used four times. The only reference in the bill to “women” and “girls” describes the existing law that created the “Commission on the Status of Women and Girls.”
A 2022 article in the Columbia Law Review (CLR) sheds light on the different types of scenarios where the term “pregnant people” is thought to be appropriate.
They include pregnant women who don’t identify as female and couples involved in surrogate parenting or pursuing adoption. Two additional categories are unclear: “expectant couples in which one partner is pregnant,” and “pregnant people who rely on networks of family and friends for support and caregiving.” The stated objective of referring to “pregnant people” is “gender neutrality” and “equity.”
The CLR article references another paper, published in 2019, titled “Unsexing Pregnancy,” which discusses workplace accommodations and how linking women with pregnancy could be legally problematic.
For example, a woman who changes her birth certificate to say she was born a male could potentially become pregnant and be denied certain coverage. Or a “nonpregnant” expectant parent who experiences symptoms of pregnancy such as weight gain and morning sickness, can be excluded from treatment because the benefit might specify “women.”
A growing list of notable people, publications, and organizations have disconnected pregnancy from the female sex.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky used “pregnant people” when discussing COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy, reported The Hill, in an April 2021 article that used the gendered term “pregnant women.” Christopher Zahn, vice president of practice activities for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, was quoted using the term “pregnant people” in Gothamist, on February 15.
The Associated Press (AP) addresses gender in its diversity, equity, and inclusion guidelines.
“Gender is not synonymous with sex,” states the AP Stylebook. “[G]ender refers to a person’s social identity, whereas sex refers to biological characteristics.” However, the AP had not updated its policies to address pregnant and birthing people, as of press time.
The medical community is also being influenced by the movement to disconnect pregnancy from the female gender. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), which administers the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), embraces the new terminology in a poll titled “From Pregnancy to Policy – The Experiences of Birthing People in the United States,” released on May 16. The survey of 1,206 “people who had given birth” asked them to rate their experience. Those who categorized themselves as LGBTQ+ reported a less than ideal birthing experience.
‘Blurring Genders’ Has Consequences
The point of such polls and adding words to the “Newspeak dictionary” goes beyond concern to not offend certain groups, says Marilyn Singleton, M.D., J.D., a board-certified anesthesiologist and former president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.
“Blurring genders is part of the movement to make us all the same,” said Singleton. “Note to collectivists: we are unique individuals and will never all be the same.”
Embracing the new terminology could be inviting trouble into the exam room, says Singleton.
“The onus is on the transgender person to make medical personnel aware of their situation,” said Singleton. “It is part of their medical history, just like smoking, past surgeries, or current medications.”
Biological sex differences do not disappear because an individual self-identifies with the other gender, says Singleton.
“Carrying the pretense of a magical gender ‘change’ into the doctor’s office or emergency room is foolhardy and a recipe for inappropriate medical treatment,” said Singleton. “Imagine the consequences of missing a prostate cancer diagnosis in a ‘woman.’”
AnneMarie Schieber (email@example.com) is the managing editor of Health Care News.