A top health official in New York City is facing backlash after a series
of tweets she posted calling White mothers "birthing people" while
referring to Black and Hispanic women as "mothers."
The comments from Dr. Michelle Morse, the chief medical officer at the New
York City Department of Health, came in a series of tweets touting the
city's "birth equity" initiative to expand the "citywide doula program and
"The urgency of this moment is clear," Morse wrote. "Mortality rates of
birthing people are too high, and babies born to Black and Puerto Rican
mothers in this city are three times more likely to die in their first
year of life than babies born to non-Hispanic White birthing people."
Morse, who was hired in February last year as the first chief medical
officer for the department, also serves as the department’s deputy
commissioner for the Center for Health Equity and Community Wellness,
which places focus on ending racial inequities.
Several social media users responded to Morse, accusing the doctor of
"White Mothers are called 'birthing people' and black and Puerto Rican
Mothers are called Mothers,"one Twitter user asked Morse. "Your license to
practice medicine should be revoked."
"My mother Francesca who is white was delivered by a midwife who was white
under a sink on Stillman Street in a cold water flat back in the 1920's,"
wrote former New York City mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa. "According to
Dr Morse what would that make my grandmother? How ridiculous".
A DOH spokesperson told the New York Post that Morse's tweet was an
"oversight" and said "we apologize for inadvertently gendering Black and
Puerto Rican birthing people."
Morse's remarks come just months after New York Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul
declared racism a "public health crisis" in the state.
Morse earned her M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of
Medicine in 2008, and her MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health in
May 2012, according to the NYC Health Department.
Several Democrats, including Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., as well as pro-choice
group NARAL, have emphasized the term "birthing people."
"Every day, Black birthing people and our babies die because our doctors
don’t believe our pain. My children almost became a statistic. I almost
became a statistic. I testified about my experience @OversightDems today.
Hear us. Believe us. Because for so long, nobody has," Bush wrote in a
tweet last May.
Echoing Bush's remarks on the term, NARAL wrote, "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.
Similarly, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has been mocked for
using the term "menstruating person" instead of women during an interview.
Fox News did not receive an immediate response from the office of New York
City Mayor Eric Adams or the New York City Department of Health.
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