A Language Barrier

John and Dennis G. have addressed the No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act, and we took it apart in the comments, but I’m curious about something.

When did we go from being women to being pregnant females?

Here’s the (applicable) text of the Hyde Amendment:

SEC. 508. (a) The limitations established in the preceding section shall not apply to an abortion–
(1) if the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest; or
(2) in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed.

Here’s the Stupak Amendment:

No funds authorized or appropriated by the Act (or amendment made by this Act) may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion, except in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, or unless the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.

Here’s the Obama executive order that tracks the Stupak Amendment:

Section. 1. Policy. Following the recent enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the “Act”), it is necessary to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered), consistent with a longstanding Federal statutory restriction that is commonly known as the Hyde Amendment.

And then there’s this:

The limitations established in sections 301, 302, 303, and 304 shall not apply to an abortion–
‘(1) if the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest; or
(2) in the case where the pregnant female suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the pregnant female in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.

The Democrat who co-sponsored the bill isn’t talking, so no help there, but as a not-now-pregnant female who was included in anti-choice statutory language up until yesterday, I’d sure like to know why “pregnant females” have all of a sudden been carefully set apart from the larger category of “women”.

Any guesses? Is it meant to include the people formerly known as “girls” or is it some brand new poll-tested language intended to divide? The last time I recall using the phrase “pregnant female” I was talking about a hamster.






90 replies
  1. 1
    Yutsano says:

    The last time I recall using the phrase “pregnant female” I was talking about a hamster.

    I think you just answered your own question. It’s a dehumanization tactic. And it will probably work, although they know this bill is dead in the water.

  2. 2
    BGinCHI says:

    Let the persistent rain of shit rain down on fucking Dan Lipinski.

    Dan got his seat the old fashioned way: daddy bought it for him. Like Evan Bayh but far stupider.

  3. 3

    @Yutsano: Hey, hon. You took my answer. “Pregnant female” removes said female from the category of human known as woman.

    Sigh.

  4. 4
    Kryptik says:

    @Yutsano:

    This. Essentially, if you’re pregnant, then they want to legally decide that you have no rights to your own body. These laws essentially want to denigrate women into little more than spermtanks/incubators right at the moment of conception.

  5. 5
    Violet says:

    Is it meant to include the people formerly known as “girls” or is it some brand new poll-tested language intended to divide?

    Probably some of both. Could there have been problems at some point where some pregnant 13 year old was somehow not considered a woman, and thus the insurance companies denied paying for her abortion? Changing “woman” to “female” removes any issues with age requirements. A two year old girl is a female, but she’s not a woman. It clarifies who is eligible for the procedure.

    But yeah, it’s dehumanizing for sure. It sounds like a research biologist is describing mice.

    Edit: Okay, yeah, I realize I have this backwards. In this case the girl’s abortion would be covered and they want to make sure it is NOT.

  6. 6
    Kay says:

    @Yutsano:

    Pregnant females are (implicitly) out of the “taxpayer” group as well, so that’s interesting.

    Not true, of course, I paid taxes even while pregnant, but it reads like “taxpayers” versus “pregnant females” to me.

  7. 7
    jacy says:

    It’s an example of “distancing language.”

    I wrote a blog post earlier this year about finding out that my kid’s grade school textbook had substituted the phrase “captive Africans” for slaves. Same principle. Take a word and replace with a less powerful, meaningful, emotional, or direct phrase.

    Anti-choicers already think women are less than full humans, they might as well codify it.

  8. 8
    The Dangerman says:

    Still waiting for this new House’s first real jobs bill.

  9. 9
    Violet says:

    @jacy:

    Anti-choicers already think women are less than full humans, they might as well codify it.

    Along those lines, “Anti-choice” is too vague and also not descriptive enough of who they are. I prefer calling them “forced birth supporters.” The use of the word “force” gives it that oomph that “anti-choice” lacks. It also describes the coercive and violent nature of their stance.

  10. 10
    Phoebe says:

    I’m certain it’s meant to cover girls.

    I think as a dehumanizing tactic it would backfire, because they go to great lengths to humanize the blastula/embryo/fetus/parasite. Then again if the wording changes again to “incubator”, then color me wrong!

  11. 11

    @The Dangerman: You better grab a six pack of Four Loko, kick back, and drink up. It’s gonna be awhile.

    @Violet: I have called them the pro-birthers, but I think your description is more apt.

  12. 12
    Yutsano says:

    @The Dangerman: I got a ten spot that sez never happens. Remember government can’t create jobs after all! Also, gotta keep the wimmenfolk barefoot and pregnant!

    @asiangrrlMN: I use pregnant female as a veterinary term. (Full disclosure: IANAV.) Forgive me for thinking that if I said that to a woman she’d deck me.

  13. 13
    kay says:

    @Phoebe:

    Right. Good point. But the legal language for girls is “minor” and it’s in there, and in a limiting context.

  14. 14
    Kryptik says:

    @jacy:

    God, why’d Carlin have to die before this crap really got under swing? Considering how much of a language marm he was, he’d be all over the ‘Captive Africans’ and ‘Pregnant Female’ bullshit and give them the proper respect they deserve, which is negative.

  15. 15
    Jules says:

    Pretty brilliant that.
    They are able to dehumanize us at the same time making sure that adult women understand that in the “forced birth supporters” (I like that) minds we are the same as “female” girls and/or teens.

  16. 16
    MonkeyBoy says:

    Why not make the language inclusive and use pregnant human so that in theory it doesn’t exclude males. Or is that too humanizing? In which case pregnant animal would be even more inclusive while being less humanizing.

  17. 17

    @Yutsano: Agreed with your last point. “How are you, pregnant female?” POW!

  18. 18
    Remfin says:

    In a world where Junior is fast becoming something besides an outlandish idea for a movie, a bunch of male lawmakers want to reserve the right for males to have abortions whenever they like!

  19. 19
    Violet says:

    Could they have changed the language in case in the future somehow men can become pregnant? And they only want to punish women? So they specify “pregnant female” to make sure men and males are left out of the whole thing?

  20. 20
    The Dangerman says:

    @Yutsano:

    I got a ten spot that sez never happens.

    No bet; it will never happen, true, yet after 2010 where they were put back in power because of the Economy, focusing on the Culture Wars seems like a good way to get voted out in 2012.

  21. 21
    jl says:

    I agree with Yutsano, it’s an attempt at social engineering to get people to agree that at some unknowable moment of possible/probable/retrospectively determined conception, the ‘pregnant female’ has fewer rights than whatever some lunatic busybody somewhere decides has/is/will be going in her (oh, excuse me, its) womb.

    I have always felt that this bibble babble about any termination of pregnancy being equivalent to murder, except for rape or incest is nonsense. If ‘life’ really begins at the moment of conception (and I think that is scientific, religious and commonsense nonsense) then why does this ‘life’ have any less right to be born because it was the product of rape or incest or anything else? I can see no consistency at all in their position on allowing any exception at all.

    If this business dies in Congress, good.

    One potential benefit is that these vicious loons (sorry, I guess that was not civil) will either continue to whittle away at any exception at all (which would result in an inhumane policy that would revolt the public), or tie themselves in knots trying to make a sensible humane and enforceable public policy consistent of their ridiculous notions. I think that they will fail except at making them look like what they are (vicious loons) to more and more people.

    So, if this thing fails right away, and it serves to discredit them in the public eye, some good may come of it.

    This whole monstrous idea reveals that these people are about controlling and oppressing women, and near psychotic panic about human sexuality, and that is about it.

  22. 22
    Baud says:

    Don’t feel bad. The GOP’s original draft would have referred to them as “two-bit hussies.” Thanks, Lipinski!

  23. 23
    Mark S. says:

    @The Dangerman:

    You’ll probably be waiting forever, because extending the Bush tax cuts is their version of a jobs bill. Republicans don’t get into government to try and do stuff; they get in to pass dog-whistle legislation to stir up their lizard-brain base.

  24. 24
    Violet says:

    @Jules:
    I like the “forced birth” part, it’s the “supporters” I’m struggling with. In general a “supporter” is a good thing and has good connotations. I want to eliminate positive and good words from describing them as much as possible.

    I considered using “proponents” but decided it was not as common of a word. Is “forced birthers” descriptive enough? I felt the use of the word “birther” harkened back to the ridiculous Obama birth nonsense and thus might obscure the issue.

    What would be a better word than “supporter”? I like the “forced birth” part. It’s got a great ring to it and sounds really awful. Which is what forcing women to continue pregnancies against their will is.

  25. 25
    jacy says:

    @Violet:

    Oh, you’re absolutely right. And I think I may steal your terminology.

    One thing you’ll never hear me say is “pro-life,” because whatever “pro-life” is, they ain’t it.

  26. 26
    iriedc says:

    I guess they want to be in line with the Vatican and force full-term pregnancy onto 9 year old girls who are sure to die from the experience. In case you’ve banished that monstrosity from memory, here’s a link to remind you:

  27. 27
    jl says:

    How come my comment is in moderation, I cannot see any bad words in there. Or is ‘s * x’ now banned?

  28. 28
    kay says:

    @Violet:

    I was trying to imagine a federal law that used “fertile male”. I obsess on their language because every time I turn around they’re redefining words, and then 6 months later the new definition is the standard usage.

  29. 29

    @jl: Insect (switch s and c) will catch you. I am in mod hell, too, and I do not know why.

    @Violet: Forced-birth jackholes. Or, more seriously, forced-birth pushers/backers.

    @iriedc: Oh, yes. I remember that well. The most egregious of examples of Catholic nastiness and misogyny.

    Yutsy, I like it, but I see Violet’s point about it being confused with the damn birfers themselves.

  30. 30
    Yutsano says:

    @asiangrrlMN: Forced birfers. Turn their damn language back on themselves.

  31. 31
    Violet says:

    @jacy:
    They certainly aren’t “pro-life.” As for “forced birth,” it’s not mine. Someone on this blog used it in a comment the other day and it literally jumped off the page at me. It’s the exact terminology I’ve been looking for and haven’t seen used before to describe who these people are. I wish I could remember who used it. A search may turn it up. But credit some smart commenter here at Balloon-Juice!

    @kay:
    “Fertile male” is already in use, as any man who has been through fertility assessment will know. There are “infertile males” out there. So although they could use that it would not be clear if they meant a male in his traditional fertility role (providing sperm) or in a new role of incubator.

  32. 32
    Violet says:

    @Yutsano:
    Maybe you have a point. Turn the language back on them. I like the simplicity of “forced birther.” It’s succinct and has a lot of power. And it accurately describes what is going on. It makes it about the woman and not about the fetus, which is another bonus.

    How can we get “forced birth” and “forced birthers” into circulation?

  33. 33
    jl says:

    How about gravid gynocarrier?

    That’s even better. It sounds like some lower life form you grow for a biology experiment (which pretty much sums up these nuts’ view of women, and a good chunk of human experience, IMHO).

  34. 34

    @Violet: Anne Laurie used it in the title of a post. Here. She called them forced-birth terrorists. Well, Terry Randall and his ilk.

    @jl: We’re trying to keep it to something they would actually understand.

    @jl: Nope. Nothing on that list.

  35. 35
    jl says:

    @asiangrrlMN:

    naughty bits

    hanky panky

    Wonder if that trips something in this silly WP whatever it is. Effing Kafka right here on your ‘puter, is what it is.

    ‘puter
    putter
    balls

    Anything bad there?

  36. 36

    @Violet: Anne Laurie used it in the title of a post. Here. She called them forced-birth terrorists. Well, Terry Randall and his ilk.

    @jl: We’re trying to keep it to something they would actually understand.

    FYWP.

  37. 37
    El Cid says:

    __

    When did we go from being women to being pregnant females?

    The problem was that you young-bearing types were ever encouraged to think outside your biological duty.

    You shouldn’t even be on here, reading and writing, because it just cruelly sustains the liberal illusion that you reproduction-dedicated creatures can do these sorts of things, and potentially interferes with gestation management.

  38. 38

    @jl: Nothing on that list should trigger the mod.

    @efgoldman: Fight the power, man!

    @El Cid: You’re on the virtual couch tonight!

  39. 39
    Loneoak says:

    Then there’s this:

    According to the Center For Reproductive Rights, 7.4 million women of child-bearing age are covered by Medicaid; in 2006, Medicaid covered a total of 85 abortions for women who were raped, the victims of incest or who risked their health or life by continuing their pregnancies.

    I don’t know whether to be surprised that the numbers are that low, or unsurprised that the forced birthers make such a big deal out of such a small number of abortions. It’s like they think there is an epidemic of women pretending to have been raped in order to get an abortion.

  40. 40
    iriedc says:

    @efgoldman: I use “anti-choice” too. I sigh inwardly, though, when I notice people pause to see if they followed what I just said.

    BTW — I was trying to link to a TIME article, but it didn’t seem to work (at least I can’t see it). Easy enough to Google the story if y’all need to turn your stomach.

  41. 41
    Loneoak says:

    You know, the new moderation stuff sucks. Can’t we have a list of confirmed commenters who can use naughty words?

  42. 42
    FlipYrWhig says:

    I think it’s an attempt to create a generic category that can encompass the case of “minors” along with women of age. Because “pregnant female” isn’t the only change:

    (1) if the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of in.cest;

    This section seems to me to say that adult women who become pregnant by in.cest are _not_ subject to the exception. They want the in.cest provision to apply only to minors. So they create a label that can be applied to minors and women of age, girls and women, then carefully eliminate some of the subcategories, like adults who conceive by in.cest.

    But I agree that “pregnant person” seems more useful still.

  43. 43

    @iriedc: It’s there. It’s just invisible. FYWP! (I know because when I tried to click on reply, I got sent to the link).

  44. 44
    jl says:

    They love ‘life’, it is just individual human lives that bothers them.

    The progress of these fanatics will be vile, grim and blackly hilarious, as they throw everything over board but a hypothetical person who is good enough to care about for their self righteous spiritual pride because it has not been born yet, cannot interact with the real world, and only that is therefore innocent and pure enough to be worth bothering about.

    Where is the fuss over cutting off funding for Vets medical care or killing off old people by voucherizing Medicare? Won’t be seen.

    They make no fuss about killing off poor people who need organ transplants in AZ, is there? But, I guess those victims been done borned and are no longer innocent enough to be worthy of any consideration.

  45. 45

    @efgoldman: I don’t comment at LGM. I don’t even know what that is. But, no, if you see an avatar of me, it’s Margaret Cho.

    @Ruckus: I had forced-birth demagogues on my list that got et by FYWP.

  46. 46
    kay says:

    @El Cid:

    I have a lot of questions on this bill, El Cid. For example. Having been pregnant, I can attest to the fact that no one who cares for pregnant women makes this false distinction between “mental health” and “physical health”.

    I think it’s accepted fact that severe depression can be just as debilitating to the people formerly known as “women” as diabetes, because there was much attention paid to my general well-being during pregnancy, and that included mental health. I love this 1950’s version of medical advice I’m getting from this long distance diagnosis.

  47. 47
    Ruckus says:

    forced-birth sociopaths

    I mean if we are going to be accurate.

  48. 48
    SenyorDave says:

    Apparently a large portion of the males in Congress consider females to be little more than breeding stock. Pretty pathetic, but then a good portion of them probably believe that the universe is less than 6,000 years old, the US is under imminent threat of shariah law (courtesy of our Muslim, anti-imperialist president), and a host of other things that should disqualify them from serving in any elected caapacity.

    I keep thinking that this is a dream that one of the two major parties in this coubtry has as its two leaders, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, and two of its start are Palin and Bachmann.

  49. 49
    IM says:

    @El Cid:

    Sounds like a passage out of the hamdmaids tale

  50. 50
    Gustopher says:

    Obviously they want to ensure that no taxpayer funding goes to aborting the unborn children of hamsters.

  51. 51
    El Cid says:

    @kay: My post was snark, I didn’t see who was talking about the different ‘types’ of illnesses.

  52. 52
    jl says:

    @El Cid:

    I hereby propose the ‘Relieve Gynohomonoids from Foot Deformation and Exposure to Cold Protection: Protecting our Unborn Children Act’

    Women must remain barefoot and in the kitchen for the sake of their real or potential precious precious innocent innocent sweet sweet never had a dirty thought the only worthy ones (except for guys) unborn.

    Short. Sweet. They could even read the whole thing, VERY SLOWLY, in front of Congress, like the Founders always did.

  53. 53

    @efgoldman: Ah! Yes. I know I’ve espied you over at TNC’s place. And, I have looked at LGM from time to time. They do seem to be up my alley.

    @jl: This is very funny, except, don’t let the Republicans see it–they might not get the joke.

    @efgoldman: Don’t think so. This is too amorphous and general, unlike the specific case of TS.

  54. 54
    El Cid says:

    @asiangrrlMN: On the couch for therapy? If so, of the fun type?

  55. 55
    El Cid says:

    @jl: I’m pretty sure that Frances Fox Piven, the Tides Foundation, George Soros, and ACORN were the conspiracy behind the 19th Amendment.

    Which, of course, is un-Constushull, because the only real Amendments are the 2nd and the 10th.

  56. 56

    @El Cid: Oooooh, bay-bee (damn you for distracting me!).

  57. 57
    jl says:

    Can’t believe I forgot to advertise my two pet peeves on this point.

    I wish the pro choice, pro reality forces would go more on the offense. Two issues really bother me about this debate.

    One is that I think these anti abortion fanatics are trying to ram their (important uncivil edit: dingbat) religious beliefs down my throat, on a topic that involves me personally (I’m I guy, but I do know, have relationships with, am family with, women who may get tangled in this nonsense).

    Second, when they say that it is important to ‘protect unborn life’ I think the very aggressive response is that ‘unborn life’ is protected now, in a way that is practical, workable, and consistent with the personal morality of the vast majority of the population.

    I remember that Biden said as much in an interview, that the fetus gets protection consistent with the woman’s own rights, and as it becomes closer and closer to becoming a realized (that is, born and surviving) independent human life.

    That is exactly what we do now.

    Need to go on the offense on the absurdity of defining life as starting at conception, how impractical that is, and how foreign to religious tradition. Because the anti abortion fanatics need to go there. They know it is absurd, but their real goals here, I think are to control women in the first trimester (when it really should be the woman’s business) and to go after contraception.

  58. 58
    Kathy in St. Louis says:

    When you don’t have an answer to the real problems of this country, just change the subject. I was sure that when the Republicans got their voice back, they’d go back to the tried and true issues that have always won for them…abortion, gays, immigrants, crime. That’s so they won’t have to talk about jobs, poverty, education and how they are going to fix these real economic issues without offending their biggest contributors. Some things just never change.

  59. 59
    Erg says:

    over on twitter, the protest has begun. #dearjohn

  60. 60
    BR says:

    When you don’t have an answer to the real problems of this country, just change the subject. I was sure that when the Republicans got their voice back, they’d go back to the tried and true issues that have always won for them…abortion, gays, immigrants, crime. That’s so they won’t have to talk about jobs, poverty, education and how they are going to fix these real economic issues without offending their biggest contributors. Some things just never change.

    Nope, they don’t:

    The American President (~2:30)

  61. 61
    gnomedad says:

    Submitted for consideration: “enforced gestation”.
    Also, never bet something will never happen; only your opponent can collect.
    /pedantic

  62. 62
    Cacti says:

    In the next anti-choice bill, you’ll be further demoted to “fetus incubator”.

  63. 63
    goatchowder says:

    It’s exactly a term to indicate that they don’t consider them women, just receptacles for a phoetus.

    On a somewhat related note, I got banned from dKos for suggesting on a post about the Repug “forcible”-only rape bill, that I’d be happy to hold down John Boner while a woman rams a baton up his ass repeatedly and asks him if that’s “forcible” enough to qualify as rape. Thus the Repugs could remove the ambiguity and scientifically determine exactly how “forcible” is “forcible”.

    They got really irate about it and bounced me from the site instantly. Good thing I didn’t wish for him to DIAF (actually, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, but I can’t see anything but poetic justice in a rapist-enabler being raped).

  64. 64
    Sko Hayes says:

    I’m kind of glad that national Republicans are bringing this fight to the floor of the House. The states have been chipping away at abortion access since GWB was in office and no one was paying any attention.
    For example, Oklahoma passed a law that prevents a doctor from being sued if he lies to the woman about the health of the fetus:

    A second measure passed into law on Tuesday prevents women who have had a disabled baby from suing a doctor for withholding information about birth defects while the child was in the womb.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04.....rtion.html

  65. 65
    Ecks says:

    I’ve heard the “forced birth” line years ago on other boards, the time I had my every-has-to-have-one-once-in-their-life-ill-advised knock down drag out abortion debate on the internets.

    The observation that makes sense to me is that the idea of an exception for rape or incest doesn’t make sense if your priority is protecting life (does it give you the right to shot in cold blood anyone who was the product of rape or incest), but it does make sense as a way of punishing people who have disaproved of forms of sex.

  66. 66
    El Cid says:

    Remember, zygotes don’t even have to be within the live-bearing females in order to have more rights:

    SNOWFLAKE BABIES!

    Several pro-life members of Congress held a press conference on Monday afternoon with “snowflake babies.” These are the children who were formerly stored human embryos at fertility clinics who could have been destroyed for scientific research but have since been adopted.
    __
    Congressman Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican, orchestrated the press conference.
    __
    “Assertions that leftover embryos are better off dead so that their stem cells can be derived is dehumanizing and cheapens human life. There is no such thing as leftover human life,” Smith said.
    __
    “Ask the snowflake children— cryogenically frozen embryos who were adopted—their lives are precious and priceless,” he added.
    __
    He knows something about supporting stem cell research.
    __
    Smith wrote the law in 2005 authorizing $265 million in federal funding for cord blood and bone marrow adult stem cell programs, but he says Obama’s decision takes away from that funding by diverting federal funds to stem cells that have never helped patients…
    __
    …House Republican Leader John Boehner added that Obama’s decision [lifting Bush Jr.-era restrictions on using federal funds for research on embryonic stem cells] runs counter to his promise to be a president for all Americans.
    __
    “For a third time in his young presidency, the President has rolled back important protections for innocent life, further dividing our nation at a time when we need greater unity to tackle the challenges before us,” he said.
    __
    March 2009

    I’m guessing that the standard for “forcible” destruction of ice zygotes is a bit broader than that for “forcible” rape of the placental viviparids.

  67. 67
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Violet: I’ve heard “proponents” used as a scare-word before, especially from right-wingers (‘proponents of the socialist agenda’ stuff). “Adherents” might be another choice, since it’s used so often to describe members of a religion/philosophy the speaker disapproves of — “forced-birth adherents” gives it that Talibangelical flavor.

  68. 68
    Sko Hayes says:

    @jl:

    It’s not about “protecting the unborn”, because 5 minutes after that baby is born, they are no longer interested in protecting it.
    There was a video posted on the FP here yesterday, with this wacky guy talking calmly about only allowing Christians to vote, and that the US should be run by a “Christian dictator”. Truly jaw dropping.
    Anyway, he made a comment in that video that really brought it home for me what the right wing really wants IRT preventing abortion.
    He said (paraphrasing):

    They want to keep abortion legal so they can have sex with no consequences.

    It’s about punishing women for enjoying sex. Forced birthers is the perfect term for these religious nuts.

  69. 69
    debbie says:

    @ Sko Hayes:

    And the Hippocratic Oath be damned, I guess.

  70. 70

    Oh hell . . . . . . .

    If anybody ever figures out how to get men pregnant, I’ll chip in on the manufacturing costs.

  71. 71
    Tata says:

    Let’s be clear: “girls and women” = human beings; “female” = livestock. Small shifts in language like this one tell you everything you need to know, don’t they?

  72. 72
    Phoebe says:

    @kay: It’s in the first clause, but not the second, of the blurb you posted, which is the blurb talking about the people to whom the limitations don’t apply, that is, people who still get to have federally funded abortions.

    My suspicion is that someone might have negotiated “pregnant female” on the off chance that somebody somewhere might decide to exclude knocked up minors when the language just said “women”. For instance, if you replace “pregnant female” with “woman” in the first clause, then see that — oh! — it talks about “if a minor”, so it means that “woman” doesn’t automatically cover minors. Which would then affect the interpretation of the second clause, which would only cover “a woman”.

    Of course an alternate view [and the accurate one] would be that “if a minor” in the first clause only means that adult women who are pregnant via incest are not included in this exception. This is the kind of fine-tooth-nitpicking that judicial opinions and dissents are made of, where if someone CAN find [and exploit] a gray area, and wants to, then someone will. So I can see a drafter saying, “F this, we’ll just say ‘pregnant female’ and then it will be crystal clear that we include minors. Can we break for lunch now?”

  73. 73
    Violet says:

    @Anne Laurie:
    I like “adherents.” Definitely gives it that Talibangelical flavor. So, “forced birth adherents” or “forced birth proponents” are both good.

    If it started to stick, then “forced birthers” might be good. The goal would be to get it out in common usage so it replaces “pro-life” as a descriptor. Because it’s a much more accurate way to describe them and it turns the focus on the woman rather than the fetus.

    Anyone who blogs or uses twitter or whatever should start using “forced birth” as a way to describe them and see if we can’t get it to catch on.

  74. 74
    RSA says:

    I go with the “dehumanizing” explanation. Also, I wonder if any earlier draft contained the word “baby” rather than “fetus”? It wouldn’t suprise me. Neither term occurs in the text now; I don’t think social conservatives like the latter word.

  75. 75
    NineJean says:

    @Phoebe:

    I’m certain it’s meant to cover girls.

    When I was a young’un, conventional wisdom said that ” if she’s big enough, she’s old enough.” So I was “big enough” when I was nine. So the result was…?

  76. 76
    Jules says:

    @Violet:

    Forced Birth Adherents.
    Forced Bithers for short.
    Or FBA.

    Yeah, I’m all for the new name.

  77. 77
    goatchowder says:

    I’ve said this so many times, I should put it in a sig file or something.

    The Amercan Taliban is neither anti-abortion nor pro-life. They are anti-sex.

    They are against sex, pleasure, orgasm, homosexuality, bisexuality, masturbation, group sex, pornography, birth control, and abortion.

    ANYTHING having to do with sex, or enabling sex to happen, they are against it.

    That’s all this is. That’s all this ever was.

  78. 78
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Loneoak:

    It’s like they think there is an epidemic of women pretending to have been raped in order to get an abortion.

    Of course, as any rational person could see, outlawing abortion except in the cases of rape or inc.est would cause a massive increase in false rape reports as desperate women tried to get abortions.

    Considering that these are some of the same people who insist it’s not rape unless the victim is a white Christian virgin, I think that’s a feature, not a bug. What better way to discredit real rape victims than to massively increase the number of false reports?

  79. 79
    NineJean says:

    @NineJean: So, I was steamed a bit, little bit too long to edit. That was 50 years ago, guess I should be over it by now. But that whole “pregnant female” language is just … wrong … Unfortunately, still steamed. Working on getting over it. Maybe. Eventually.

  80. 80
    Citizen_X says:

    I’m gonna go with “forced-birth fanatics.”

  81. 81
    Jay S says:

    @Violet: How about birth forcer for short.

  82. 82
    Cacti says:

    Since the Goopers are all about clever names for bills, we ought to respond in kind. I think the proposed amendment should be referred to as…

    “The Rapist Empowerment Act of 2011”

  83. 83
    Persia says:

    @SenyorDave:

    the US is under imminent threat of shariah law

    To be fair, that’s pretty much what the Republicans keep begging for, just replacing “Allah” with “Jeebus.”

  84. 84
    Phoebe says:

    @NineJean: Please don’t get the impression that I sympathize with the bill. But I do think the intention to cover girls as well as adult women [unambiguously] is what is behind the language, and at least in the blurb Kay cites, the inclusion is for the exceptions, i.e. for the shrinking few who’d still get to have federally funded abortions, so we’d want it to include girls, unambiguously. If it sounds a little cold, well, it’s legislation, not a State of the Union.

  85. 85
    jl says:

    @Phoebe: Why didn’t they just say ‘this bill refers to adult women and female minors as defined by state law (or whatever)’?

    Edit: minor is an accepted term for referring to certain types of people. I do not remember anyone using the terms ‘female’ (or ‘male’ for that matter) as noun in the same way they use adult or minor, or man or woman, or child, or any number of other terms.

    It is weird, and I am not in a mood to be charitable about it, given the history of this anti abortion, anti woman, anti normal human existence movement.

  86. 86
    Joseph Nobles says:

    “Pregnant female” points specifically to the woman and away from the fetus. By separating the fetus from the mother within the language of the law, the idea that the fetus is a part of the woman’s body is weakened legally.

    It’s wedge language meant to help erode all protections for abortion whatsoever.

  87. 87

    […] at other types of language use. The writer Kay at Balloon-Juice has an excellent article, entitled “A Language Barrier”, which explores how the term “women” in previous legislation about about abortion (the […]

  88. 88
    BH in MA says:

    I agree that “pregnant female” is simply being used as a phrase to include both women and girls.

    I’m surprised that I haven’t seen it pointed out in comments because it was the first thing I thought of when I first heard about the bill: if there is a chance that the “pregnant female” derived pleasure from the act then they should be forced to “pay the piper” and have the baby. If they didn’t fight then they must have wanted it, right?

  89. 89
    Phoebe says:

    @jl: You cannot be too nitpicky with this stuff. What you would need to do — because your suggestion is still too vague, I believe — is put a clause within the bill that defines “woman” to include any human female capable of becoming pregnant. Then you could go ahead and use the term “woman” with total safety.

    And now I’m starting to get annoyed with the cumulative pile on I’ve received for entertaining any doubt about the intent of this language. If you want to hate this bill, hate this bill, if you don’t want to be charitable, as you put it, don’t be charitable. But an inclination to take offense where none was meant, or to refuse to entertain doubt where there is very reasonable evidence for it, is not necessary. At best. And I’m not the asshole for seeing something different. And I fucking hate the bill.

  90. 90
    Jamie says:

    Remember, politicians, as a rule, are very baroque creatures. It runs in the family. It wouldn’t surprise me if some of the people making up this language remember that once upon a time, being an ‘infertile male’ was actually a designation that put ruler-status, life, and one’s family at risk.

    Given that the sorts of folks who think aristocracy is the natural order seem to be ascendant, I hope that people won’t find me terribly conspiracy minded if this occurs to me.

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