When asked about the term “birthing people,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra struggled to describe what it actually means.
In Biden’s recent budget proposal, the term was used instead of “mothers,” as reported by The Daily Wire.
Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma asked Becerra about the decision to include the term in his budget work instead of “mother.”
Lankford asked, “… can you help me get a good definition of ‘birthing people?’”
Becerra seemed to struggle to come up with an answer, instead using the term in the definition when he answered, “Well, I’ll check on the language there, but I think if we’re talking about those who give birth, I think we’re talking about — uh — I don’t know how else to explain it to you other than —”
Lankford said he was a little taken aback when he saw it and wanted to know if it was a direction in which Becerra was going, and if there are regulatory changes happening related to the decision.
Becerra said he would need to look at the language that was used in the budget, adding, “… I think it simply reflects the work that’s being done.”
Lankford acknowledged, “The language is important always. We don’t want to offend in our language. I get that, but would you at least admit calling a ‘mom’ a ‘birthing person’ could be offensive to some moms? … Can you at least admit that term itself could be offensive to some moms?”
Becerra again said that he would go back and look at the terminology that was used, but said, “we’re trying to be precise in the language that’s used.”
Lankford provided a mic-drop moment, saying, “‘Mom’s a pretty good word. That’s worked for a while, and I think that’s pretty precise, as well.”
The Biden administration has begun using the term “birthing people” in an apparent attempt to provide inclusivity to those who do not identify as “women,” but still give birth, further blurring the lines of distinction between the sexes. As Lankford alluded to, however, demeaning women to the act of giving birth could be offensive to mothers who see their role as much broader than an act of biology.
In a congressional hearing on Wednesday, Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Shalanda Young stood by the use of the term in the budget proposal when she was asked about it.
As reported by Yahoo News, Republican Representative Jason Smith of Missouri pressed Young on the topic.
“The budget requests $26 million to reduce maternal mortality and eliminate race-based disparities in outcomes among ‘birthing people.’” Smith said. “This is a shift from recent budgets that referred to maternal health issues as women’s issues. I’ve never heard the term before, can you explain what it means?”
“There are certain people who do not have gender identities that apply to female and male, so we think our language needs to be more inclusive on how we deal with complex issues,” Young responded.
Young added, “I think the underlying issues … is to try to ensure those of color who are giving birth are leaving the hospital alive. That’s the issue rather than the verbiage. Verbiage matters, but the underlying issues are extremely important, and a lot of your colleagues are working hard on this. Because all of those giving birth should have access to the same quality of health.”
“So is the administration’s official policy to replace the term ‘woman’ with ‘birthing people’?” Smith asked.
Young replied, “I think our official policy is to make sure that when people get service from their government that they feel included, and we’re trying to use inclusive language.”
Watch the exchange between Lankford and Becerra here: