Discourse

New England Journal of Medicine erases women, uses the term 'pregnant person'

In their article "Preliminary Findings of mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine Safety in Pregnant Persons," the more than a dozen authors, all of them doctors, refer to "pregnant persons," erasing women.
Libby Emmons
Libby Emmons Brooklyn, NY
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The New England Journal of Medicine published a report on the efficacy and risks of COVID vaccines for "pregnant persons." In their article entitled "Preliminary Findings of mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine Safety in Pregnant Persons," the more than a dozen listed authors, all of them doctors, refer to "pregnant persons," erasing women.

The background of the article is that "Many pregnant persons in the United States are receiving messenger RNA (mRNA) coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines, but data are limited on their safety in pregnancy." While this is a key area of research, it makes no sense to refer to pregnant women as pregnant persons.

This is a trend in medicine, to ideologically separate the female reproductive system from women. As a result, medical journals worldwide have undertaken the practice of referring to those with female bodies who are pregnant as "pregnant people," even though there can be no doubt in the minds of any medical professional that it is only the female body that is capable of becoming pregnant and giving birth.

Yet the New England Journal of Medicine engages in this fantasy that if they say "pregnant person" they are being inclusive of those with female reproductive systems who have become pregnant but are gender-nonconforming. What they are actually doing is excluding pregnant women, who find the language dehumanizing. Pregnant women know they are women, they know they are pregnant, and they know that they have female reproductive systems.

It is under the guise of being inclusive to the teeny tiny percentage of gender nonconforming biological females who are pregnant that New England Journal of Medicine, and so many other prestigious medical publications, have excluded women from their own pregnancies.

The New England Journal of Medicine appears to believe that women, during this most vulnerable, difficult, and female experience, should give up their identities as women in order to appease those biological women who are pregnant yet identify as transgender or non-binary.

In summarizing their results, they write "A total of 35,691 v-safe participants 16 to 54 years of age identified as pregnant." Are they really under the impression that these participants are something other than female?

They are not. Even within the article, they cannot maintain their contention that women who are pregnant are little more than pregnant persons. They write "Preliminary findings did not show obvious safety signals among pregnant persons who received mRNA Covid-19 vaccines. However, more longitudinal follow-up, including follow-up of large numbers of women vaccinated earlier in pregnancy, is necessary to inform maternal, pregnancy, and infant outcomes." (Emphasis my own.)

They write: "Pregnant persons were excluded from preauthorization clinical trials, and only limited human data on safety during pregnancy were available at the time of authorization," which we are meant to understand means that pregnant women were not part of clinical vaccine trials.

But they go on to say that: "pregnant persons with Covid-19 are at increased risk for severe illness (e.g., resulting in admission to an intensive care unit, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or mechanical ventilation) and death, as compared with nonpregnant persons of reproductive age." In this case, do they mean nonpregnant women and nonpregnant men? How are we to parse this?

In using this kind of language, the New England Journal of Medicine is doing two things: it is using the term "pregnant person" in an ideological context, but it is also assuming the reader will know that "pregnant person" means pregnant woman. The New England Journal of Medicine is engaging in a fantasy, and asking readers to both go along with the fantasy, and to see through it at the same time.

It's time to abandon the falsehood of "pregnant person," and to stop engaging in the fantasy that a person who is pregnant can be anything other than a woman. Women are adult, human females. Women are the only humans that are capable of becoming pregnant. The New England Journal of Medicine knows this, and so do we. Medical journals must dispense with the fantasy, and just tell the truth.

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