HHS secretary Becerra had difficulty explaining why budget bill terms replaced ‘mother’ with ‘birthing person’

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra had difficulty explaining why the term “birthing person” has replaced “mother” in the department’s budget request when pressed by Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) during budget hearings this week.

“Mom is a pretty good word,” the Oklahoma Republican told Becerra at one point as he pressed the HHS secretary and former California state attorney general for an answer.

“I also noticed you changed a term in your budget work. You shifted in places from using the term ‘mother’ to ‘birthing people’ rather than mother. Can you help me get a good definition of birthing people?” Lankford asked.

“I’ll check on the language there, but I think if we’re talking about those who give birth, I think we’re talking about — I don’t know how else to explain it to you other than…” Becerra stammered.

“I was a little taken back when I just read it and saw it, that the term mother was gone in spots, and it was replaced with birthing people, and I didn’t know if this was a direction that you were going, if there were shifts, if there are regulatory changes that are happening related to that or what the purpose of that is,” the Oklahoman pressed.

“I think it’s probably, and again I’d have to go back to take a look at the language that was used in the budget, but I think it simply reflects the work that’s being done,” said the HHS secretary.

Unsatisfied, Lankford said while he understood that certain language could be viewed as offensive to some people — hence the ‘birthing person’ term instead of ‘mother’ — he nevertheless asked Becerra if he could at least admit that the term the department chose in its budget request “could be offensive to some moms.”

“The language is important always…would you at least admit that calling a mom a “birthing person” could be offensive…that they don’t want to get a ‘Happy birthing person card’ in May. Can you at least admit that term itself could be offensive to some moms?” the Oklahoma Republican asked.

But again, Becerra demurred, saying he’d get back to Lankford, adding, “Again, we’re trying to be precise in the language that’s used.”

Lankford opposed Becerra’s nomination when he came up for a vote earlier this year for several reasons, among them “his hostility toward conscience protections and his lack of experience to lead such a critical agency,” according to a Thursday statement.

“Lankford asked Becerra for an update on several requests he sent regarding data on the number of Unaccompanied Minors (UAC) crossing the border,” the statement continued. “He also questioned Becerra on why the department is working to eliminate the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the Office for Civil Rights at HHS and on language in the President’s proposed budget regarding maternal health that referred to ‘birthing people’ instead of mothers even though the science is clear that women give birth.”

The term has been gaining popularity among a small segment of the population, the LGBTQ community. One left-wing group, NARAL — the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League — tweeted recently that use of the term is about “being inclusive.”

“When we talk about birthing people, we’re being inclusive. It’s that simple. We use gender neutral language when talking about pregnancy, because it’s not just cis-gender women that can get pregnant and give birth. Reproductive freedom is for *every* body,” the group tweeted.

In fact, only biological women can get pregnant and give birth, regardless of whether they have ‘transitioned’ to a male.

The term ‘birthing people’ was first used in a congressional setting by far-left Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) during testimony in May, in which she alleged racism was responsible for the mistreatment of black pregnant women.

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Jon Dougherty

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