CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Harvard Medical School recently generated backlash after referring to mothers and women as “birthing people” in an online seminar on “maternal justice” in order to be inclusive of women who identify as men.
“Harvard, an institution that was once a beacon of intellectual excellence, is now a laughing stock reduced to this kind of drivel,” wrote one of many commenters who spoke out against the terminology used in the presentation.
The webinar, “Maternal Justice Across the Atlantic: Race, Pregnancy and Birth Equity in the United States and Great Britain,” was meant to discuss inequities in pregnancy care and strategies on reducing maternal morbidity among minorities.
A description of the discussion on the Harvard Medical School post-graduate website states that “[g]lobally ethnic minority pregnant and birthing people suffer worse outcomes and experiences during and after pregnancy and childbirth,” the disparities of which have been highlighted by the current pandemic.
The presentation was moderated by Dr. Adeline Boatin, an assistant professor at Harvard and OB/GYN at Massachusetts General Hospital, and featured several panelists, including Dr. Rose Molina, also a Harvard assistant professor and OB/GYN at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Christine Ekechi, a consultant OB/GYN at the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in the UK and co-chair of the Race Equality Taskforce at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
While the word “women” was used at times during the hour-long presentation, the term “birthing people” was also repeatedly utilized, such as, “[I]n addition to adverse health outcomes, pregnant and birthing people of color also experience worse quality of care or mistreatment during childbirth in the U.S.”
After posting a link to the seminar on social media, likewise utilizing the “birthing people” verbiage, most commenters expressed outrage, alleging that Harvard was erasing women.
“The term you are searching for is woman. And the other term you are searching for is Black woman,” one commenter wrote. “After hundreds of years of chattel slavery, give the Black woman the dignity of being centered in her womanhood.”
“Harvard. Supposed to be smart people. The best education and training possible. The word is women. Adult human females. An actual medical term. Does Harvard not teach anatomy?” another asked.
The school responded the following day, asserting that it was seeking to be inclusive of women who identify as men and meant no offense.
“The webinar panelists used the term ‘birthing person’ to include those who identify as non-binary or transgender because not all who give birth identify as ‘women’ or ‘girls,'” it wrote. “We understand the reactions to this terminology and in no way meant for it to erase or dehumanize women.”
However, the explanation did not assuage the concerns but rather resulted in additional backlash.
“You do realize only women can give birth? They can identify as the green giant for all I care, but if they have a uterus then they are a WOMAN!” one commenter exclaimed.
“Next time you see your dear mom and it’s her birthday, just say ‘Happy Birthday, Birthing Person.’ She’ll love it,” another quipped.
“Women give birth. It’s insulting not to identify them as such. [Compromising] the massive role women play in birthing and rearing our citizens to call them birthing people is demeaning to women,” a third stated.
As previously reported, in Nov. 2019, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) similarly drew much controversy after it asserted for International Men’s Day that “Men who get pregnant and give birth are men.”
While some view transgenderism as a medical condition, Christians believe the matter is also a spiritual issue at its root — one that stems from the same predicament all men everywhere face without Christ.
The Bible teaches that all are born with the Adamic sin nature, having various inherent feelings and inclinations that are contrary to the law of God, and being utterly incapable of changing by themselves.
Jesus outlined in John 3:5-7 that men must be regenerated by the second birth, and be transformed from being in Adam to being a new creation in Christ, or they cannot see the kingdom of Heaven. It is known in Christianity as the doctrine of regeneration.
1 Corinthians 15:45 states, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul. The last Adam (Jesus) became a life-giving spirit.”
“Bitter experience teaches that the imprisoning net clings too tightly to be stripped from our limbs by our own efforts. Nay rather, the net and the captive are one, and he who tries to cast off the oppression which hinders him from following that which is good is trying to cast off himself,” also wrote the late preacher and Bible commentator Alexander Maclaren.
“But to men writhing in the grip of a sinful past, or paralyzed beyond writhing and indifferent, because [they are] hopeless, or because they have come to like their captivity, comes one whose name is ‘The Breaker,’ whose mission it is to proclaim liberty to the captives, and whose hand laid on the cords that bind a soul, causes them to drop harmless from the limbs and sets the bondsman free.”