The American Civil Liberties Union has apologized for excluding the word “woman” from a Ruth Bader Ginsburg quotation in a tweet posted Sept. 18: “The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a [person’s] life, to [their] well-being and dignity,” as the organization rendered the statement. ACLU executive director Anthony Romero told the New York Times that in the future the group “won’t be altering people’s quotes.”
But it will surely find more palatable ways to hedge the word, because doing so has become a progressive point of order. House Democrats qualified the word “woman” in a September bill by saying the term reflects “the identity of the majority of people” who might seek an abortion: “This Act is intended to protect all people with the capacity for pregnancy—cisgender women, transgender men, non-binary individuals, those who identify with a different gender, and others.”
The Justice Department made a similar note about “any individuals who become pregnant” in a brief filed against the Texas abortion law. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Covid vaccines are safe for “pregnant people.” The White House budget’s neutered term for mothers: “birthing people.”
Such squeamishness about calling women “women” is notable from self-professed feminists. But tension between old-fashioned feminism and new gender ideology has been brimming for a while.