BMA warns against calling pregnant women ‘expectant mothers’

Pregnant people is the preferred method of referring to expectant mothers. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Pregnant people is the preferred method of referring to expectant mothers. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Staff at the British Medical Association (BMA) have been warned not to call pregnant women “expectant mothers” as it could offend transgender people.

Instead, they should call them “pregnant people” so as not to upset intersex and transgender men.

The advice comes in an internal document to staff outlining a raft of common phrases that should be avoided for fear of causing offence.

“The elderly” should be referred to as “older people”, “disabled lifts” called “accessible lifts” and someone who is “biologically male or female” should be called “assigned male or female”.

The BMA said the document was purely guidance for its staff on effective communication within the workplace, not advice to its 156,000 doctor members on how to deal with patients.

On pregnancy and maternity, it says: “Gender inequality is reflected in traditional ideas about the roles of women and men. Though they have shifted over time, the assumptions and stereotypes that underpin those ideas are often deeply-rooted.”

It adds: “A large majority of people that have been pregnant or have given birth identify as women.

“We can include intersex men and transmen who may get pregnant by saying ‘pregnant people’ instead of ‘expectant mothers’.”

Elsewhere, staff are told to substitute the words “surname” or “last name” for “family name”.

“Mankind” and “manpower” should be avoided because it is “not good practice” to use a “masculine noun”, instead swapped for “humanity” and “personnel”, and listing 
prefixes for names such as “Prof”, “Dr”, “Mr”, “Mrs” 
or “Miss” should not be put 
in a particular order on forms to avoid a “perceived hierarchy”.

The document, which was published last year, also underlines guidance on language that has long been considered offensive, suggesting staff do not refer to people as being “spastic” or “mongol” but that they should be called a “person with cerebral palsy” or “person with Down’s syndrome”.

The BMA issued the guidance to reinforce the use of inclusive language as part of its commitment to equality and inclusion.

The introduction to the document said: “This guide 
promotes good practice through the use of language that shows respect for and sensitivity towards everyone.”

A BMA spokesman said: “This is a guide for BMA staff and representatives aimed at promoting an inclusive workplace at the BMA. It is not workplace guidance for doctors which is clear from the fact it does not refer to patients.”

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