Jay Richards is the Daily Signal’s Editor
Senate rules stipulate that reconciliation packages should only address budget issues. However, the $3.5 trillion tax bill Democrats want to push through by reconciliation offers the possibility for radical gender activists to sneak the language and assumptions that they believe into federal legislation.
For instance, the text on “Maternal Mortality” (Part 4 of Subtitle J of Title III) consists of 15 sections that appropriate funds for a range of grants and programs for research and education on women’s health.
And yet, in these sections discussing mothers who might face high-risk conditions related to childbearing, we find gender-neutral terminology repeated 18 times in more than half of the 15 sections: “pregnant, lactating, and postpartum individuals.”
While “individual” or “person” is common in legal documents when the referent could be male or female, that doesn’t explain what’s happening here. It is possible to use vague and ungendered terminology in legal documents as a way of making language compatible with an ideology that rejects the inherent binary of male or female.
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Subtitle J’s use of the generic “individuals” with “pregnant,” “lactating,” or “postpartum” is different even from the rest of the bill. A separate section on Medicaid, for instance, refers to “pregnant and postpartum women.” But in such cases, the bill is referring to past legislation that already uses the word “women,” such as the Violence Against Women Act, passed in 1994.
Often this involves direct quotes from laws already on the books, so gender editors must leave the “offending” words in place.
It is clear that the trend has been unmistakable. References to women are being eliminated whenever possible. We’ve seen this Congress’ commitment to the woke left’s radical gender ideology since its opening days. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), made gender neutral language a standard for Congress in January.
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The same approach applies even to bills that deal with specific topics for women. In 2021, opting to refer to a woman as a “pregnant, lactating, and postpartum individual” suggests that someone need not be a female to be pregnant, to lactate, or to suffer postpartum health complications.
This is of course exactly what the point is. Some radical feminists believe being a female is more about nurture and self-designation, rather than natural biology. This conviction is reflected in the language.
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Alas, this woke language won’t just be kept in federal filing cabinets as an artifact of history. It will control the spending of hundreds upon millions of dollars. This direction may be very specific.
For instance, Part 4 of Subtitle J appropriates funds that may be used to train America’s medical professionals. Section 31046 provides $85 million for competitive grants to eligible medical schools and programs interested in studying the effects of climate change upon maternal mortality.
The grantees are required to use the funds for continued education and curricula. Those programs must focus on “identifying and addressing health risks and disparities associated with climate change, counseling, and mitigation strategies in addressing these risks and disparities.”
But there’s an option for those less concerned about the role of changing global temperature averages on lactation. Medical schools can also use the funds to study “implicit and explicit bias, racism, and discrimination in providing care to pregnant, lactating, and postpartum individuals and individuals with the intent to become pregnant.”
Of course, in the abstract, funding to develop curricula on discrimination and bias toward “pregnant, lactating, and postpartum individuals” might sound nice. But let’s not be naive about its effect, which is to impose curricula committed to gender ideology through the power of the federal purse. It would do this under the cover of preventing “discrimination.”
It doesn’t matter if this funding will improve the health of mothers or pregnant women, but the inclusion of gender neutral language shows that it is more than just helping mothers. Rather, it’s about injecting a woman-erasing ideology into society from the federal level.
The Equality Act would make gender ideologies a part of civil rights law. Activists sought to promote this cause. But they’re also exploiting every chance to erase references to women—from civil society and the classroom to the executive branch.
Wary legislators and legislative staff should reject these efforts to advance radical gender ideology incrementally—and expose it to the light of day before it finds its way further into the language of our laws.
The Daily Signal permission granted permission for this syndicated article.