In an effort to combat maternal mortality among black women during childbirth, Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) refers to expectant mothers as “birthing people.” Speaking on Thursday on a hearing about “Birthing While Black: Examining America’s Black Maternal Health,” Bush upheld the new language erasing mothers from childbirth.

“I am committed to doing the most to doing the absolute most to protect black mothers, to protect black babies, and to protect black birthing people,” Bush said.

The hearing, intended to “examine the maternal mortality and morbidity crisis experienced by [b]lack birthing people in America,” made use of congress’ new rules to not allow terminology that denotes sex-based relationships, and Bush followed suit.

During the hearing, Bush spoke about her experience giving birth. “I sit before you as a mother, a single mother of two.” Her son Zion was born early, at only 23 weeks, and Bush recounts the difficulty of realizing that there were complications. She was sick, vomiting, and around five months, she told her doctor that she was having problems only to have her doctor tell her she was mistaken. Only a week later, she went into early labor.

Bush gave a harrowing account of pre-term labor, and how hard it was to get doctors to listen to her about complications for both of her children. Both are doing well, and are over 20 years old. In her testimony, it is clear that Bush knows that those who give birth are women, but she used this language that congress has mandated to obscure and obfuscate that fact.

This is merely the latest implementation of language designed to separate women from their biological reality. Whether being referred to as menstruators, birthing people, pregnant people, lactating people, chestfeeders, or any other term meant to disguise their femaleness, women need to know what they are, and so do doctors, politicians, and society. How can they be their own advocates, as Bush suggests, if they can’t even name what they are?

If congress, and the US, are going to do more to protect women during childbirth, it would certainly help those women, their doctors, and society to know and be able to express that mothers are, in all cases, women.

When women give birth, when they go into the hospital and have their babies, doctors and nurses all call them “mom.”

How horrifying it would be to be handed the newborn that came out of your own body and to be called “birthing person,” or even “parent”? Mothers know what they are, and no one should stand in the way of them expressing it.

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