Republican Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford challenged Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra Thursday over the department’s use of the term “birthing people.”
Lankford questioned Becerra during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the President’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget, according to a press release from Lankford’s office. The Senator asked about the “language in the President’s proposed budget regarding maternal health that referred to ‘birthing people’ instead of mothers even though the science is clear that women give birth.”
“I also noticed you changed a term in your budget work. You shifted from using the term “mother” to “birthing people” rather than mother. Can you help me get a good definition of “birthing people”? Lankford asked.
SEN. LANKFORD: “Can you help me get a good definition of ‘birthing people?’”
BECERRA: “We’re trying to be precise in the language that’s used.”
SEN. LANKFORD: “Mom is a pretty good word. That’s worked for a while.” pic.twitter.com/tE6uBPQFVM
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) June 11, 2021
Becerra struggled to provide a definition, saying he will have to “check on the language.” “But I think if we’re talking about those who give birth, I think we’re talking about…I don’t know how else to explain it to you other than [that].”
The Oklahoma Senator pushed back, saying the “language is important always.” “Would you at least admit that calling a mom a ‘birthing person’ could be offensive…that they don’t want to get a ‘Happy birthing person card’ in May. Can you at least admit that term itself could be offensive to some moms?” he asked.
The HHS Secretary declined to answer the question saying, “I’ll go back and take a look a look at [the] terminology that was used and I could get back to you, but again if we’re trying to be precise in the language that’s used.” (RELATED: KRUTA: I Earned The Name ‘Mother’ — You Won’t Demote Me To ‘Birthing Person’)
Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Shalanda Young defended the term “birthing person” at a congressional hearing Wednesday. “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,” she said, according to National Review.
“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,” she concluded.