Congressional Democrats who hoped to advance a bill that would legalize abortion up to the moment of birth have erased any mention of women in the legislation in deference to transgender men who might become pregnant.
Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would have codified the 1973 Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion up to 24 weeks and allowed the procedure up until birth if deemed necessary by a doctor.
The measure has been introduced in the past, facing defeat by Republicans every time, but the language in the bill has evolved in deference to the demands of the LGBTQ community.
While the 2019 version of the legislation referred to “women’s health” and “women seeking abortion services,” the measure blocked in the Senate on Wednesday leaves out “woman” entirely after the title of the bill and substitutes “patient,” “person” or “individual,” in place of it.
House Democrats sought to explain their position when Rep. Judy Chu, of California, introduced the bill in 2021.
“The terms ‘woman” and “women’ are used in this bill to reflect the identity of the majority of people targeted and affected by restrictions on abortion services, and to address squarely the targeted restrictions on abortion, which are rooted in misogyny. However, access to abortion services is critical to the health of every person capable of becoming pregnant,” Democrats wrote in the bill text. “This Act is intended to protect all people with the capacity for pregnancy — cisgender women, transgender men, non-binary individuals, those who identify with a different gender, and others — who are unjustly harmed by restrictions on abortion services.”
LGBTQ activists ramped up pressure on Democratic lawmakers and the Biden administration to remove references to men and women and instead use more gender-neutral terms that reflect people who do not identify as male or female.
The Biden administration has worked to meet those demands. It allows people to use gender-neutral pronouns such as “Mx” when contacting the federal government and some departments are asking employees to use the term “they” instead of “he” or “she,” the Daily Signal reported.
“Use a gender-neutral pronoun when describing a legal rule, including in memoranda, correspondence, and regulatory drafting,” Ali Khawar, the Labor Department’s acting assistant secretary of the Employee Benefits Security Administration, wrote to employees.