According to Senate rules, a reconciliation package should be limited to budget questions. But in 2021, $3.5 trillion tax-and-spend bill Democrats are trying to push through via the reconciliation process offers the chance for radical gender activists to slip the language and assumptions of their ideology 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. The use of vague, ungendered terms is an attempt to make legal language compliant with an ideology that denies the innate binary of male and female.
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.
The trajectory is unmistakable: Whenever feasible, references to woman are being neutered. We’ve seen this Congress’ commitment to the woke left’s radical gender ideology since its opening days. In early January, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., made gender-neutral language standard practice for Congress.
This approach persists even when the bill is dealing with topics unique to 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.
That is, of course, exactly the point. For certain radical gender activists, being a woman is more a function of nurture and self-designation than nature and biology. That language reflects that conviction.
Alas, this woke language won’t just be kept in federal filing cabinets as an artifact of history. It will direct the spending of hundreds of millions of dollars. That direction can be painfully specific.
For instance, Part 4 of Subtitle J appropriates funds that may be used to train America’s medical professionals. Section 31046 sets asides $85 million in competitive grants for eligible, accredited medical schools and programs that want to study the health effects of climate change on maternal mortality.
Grantees must use those funds for curricula and continuing education. 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.”
Whether this funding could improve the well-being of pregnant women or mothers, the insertion of such gender-neutral language signals that this is about far more than helping mothers. Rather, it’s about injecting a woman-erasing ideology into society from the federal level.
Activists have sought to advance this cause through the sweeping Equality Act, which would enshrine gender ideology in civil rights law. 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.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal