CDC’s Erasure of ‘Women’ from Health Guidance Raises Concerns
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently stirred controversy by eliminating the terms “women,” “mother,” “she,” and “her” from its health guidance, opting for gender-neutral language such as “pregnant person” and “pregnant people.” This absurd change, observed in vaccine promotional materials for diseases affecting pregnant women, has sparked widespread criticism, with health experts and organizations expressing concerns about its potential dangers. The altered terminology, introduced in September, has faced backlash for its capacity to create confusion, particularly among non-native English speakers. Stella O’Malley, a psychotherapist and director of Genspect, condemned the change as an unnecessary political intrusion into medicine, highlighting the potential risks for vulnerable populations.
The heart of the controversy revolves around the CDC’s guidance recommending “pregnant people” receive flu vaccinations by the end of October. Critics argue that replacing “women” with “pregnant people” unnecessarily complicates medical language, making it less accessible for certain demographics. O’Malley contends that using terms like “mothers” would be clearer for a broader audience and accuses the move of reflecting politics infiltrating the realm of medicine.
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) has strongly criticized the CDC’s decision, characterizing it as an instance of the organization bending to political forces. Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of AAPS, asserts that the CDC, intended to be an apolitical bastion of science, is succumbing to a small but influential minority attempting to manipulate language in an Orwellian fashion. Dr. Orient further argues that the CDC should prioritize warning about potential health risks, such as transgender men taking testosterone during pregnancy, rather than engaging in language shifts that obfuscate the medical message.
This controversy prompts broader questions about the intersection of politics and medicine, particularly in public health communication. Critics argue that the CDC’s language shift reflects a trend of political correctness encroaching into areas where clarity and accuracy are paramount.
As debates surrounding gender-neutral language continue, the impact on public health messaging and the ability to effectively communicate crucial information to diverse populations remains a critical consideration. The CDC’s decision serves as proof that the Biden administration would rather curry favor with special interest groups than provide clear medical advice to the public. Congress should address this issue in the budget process requiring the CDC to use biologically accurate language in its guidance and prohibiting the agency from publishing any more nonsense about “pregnant persons.”