(Thanks, as always, to JL, who can’t put her name to this because trans rights activists would try to destroy her life)
With a vote of 25–6, the Alabama state senate passed a virtually total ban on abortion. The legislation makes it illegal to perform a termination at any stage of pregnancy with doctors who do so facing a prison sentence of up to 99 years. No provision was made in cases or rape or incest, the only exception being if a serious risk is posed to the woman’s health.
Although it goes much further than any other state’s attempt to restrict abortion, the vote in Alabama is the latest in a growing trend to erase women’s reproductive rights and bodily autonomy in the US. Alabama now joins six other states, North Dakota, Kentucky, Ohio, Arkansas, Mississippi and Georgia, in implementing near or total bans on abortion.
Childbirth International, an organisation which provides training for breastfeeding counsellors and childbirth educators, posted on Facebook about the trauma experienced during childbirth. They refer not to mothers or to women but to “Birthing individuals” and “Parents”.
Amnesty International tweeted about the abortion ban, its endangerment to life and its impact on victims of rape and sexual violence. Amnesty did not feel the need to mention which sex is more likely to affected by such issues and instead used their more ‘inclusive’ go-to ‘pregnant people’.
Actor and feminist campaigner, Emma Watson, posted on Instagram about the Georgia abortion ban. Describing the criminalising of those seeking an abortion she was careful not to refer to women but to “Pregnant people” and in describing the current legislation in Northern Ireland used the term “Women and pregnant people”.
Celebrities might like to note that not only is the word ‘women’ more accurate when discussing who stands to lose most from abortion laws, it also actually uses fewer characters than ‘people’.
Abortion Rights EI, a twitter account with almost 25,000 followers which campaigns for safe and legal abortion in Northern Ireland, then quoted Emma Watson, using the same language about “Women and pregnant people”.
URGE, “Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equality”, formerly known as Choice USA, informed its 15,500 Twitter followers that “Abortion is not just a Cissue”, tweeting “Let’s remember not to use gendered language when talking about it. Abortion bans affect everyone who can pregnant — not just cis women!”.
The same day URGE tweeted about the importance of ‘uplifiting’ LGBTQ+ people in the fight for abortion provision. They claimed that, together with POC, LGBTQ+ groups “Are too often left out or not centred when they are the ones that are disproportionately affected” by bans on abortion.
ACLU, a US non-profit legal and advocacy organisation, tweeted to its 1.6 million followers about the abortion ban, avoiding the word “women” and discussing “People who can become pregnant” instead.
Trans rights activists and actor, Laverne Cox , used her commencement speech at Pitzer College to talk about the importance of ‘inclusive language’ in the debate on abortion laws. This was following her own tweet on the subject, “A woman’s body, a woman’s choice, end of debate”, being criticised. She was chastised by a follower and told, “Trans people of all genders are oppressed by the realities and language of this fight”.
Addressing the 264 college graduates, Cox commented that she was initially inclined to focus on the issue of abortion but concluded that it was important to discuss the language involved, complaining, “All of the language around abortion is about women”
Amanda Elliott, who describes herself as a writer and activist, tweeted about the abortion ban. She told her social media followers that it’s much better to use the term “Reproductive rights” instead of “Women’s rights” so as to include the people usually left out of the debate around abortion.
URGE were at it again, ensuring their Twitter followers didn’t forget their earlier edict about including “Queer” people in the discussion around the abortion bans. “Access to abortion is an everybody issue”, they stated, adding, “Not only women get abortions”.
United States Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, tweeted about the abortion ban without mentioning the word “woman”. Instead, she went with the much snappier, “Every person experiencing a pregnancy”.
Model, trans activist and face of Bluebella Lingerie, Munroe Bergdorf, tweeted about the abortion ban. Munroe sent love to transmen and non-binary individuals who may feel “Triggered” that they are not being acknowledged in the abortion debate.
So remember, ladies, when discussing an unprecedented attack on your health care, don’t forget to run your wording past the proper authorities first.