Following a series of tweets in which she referred to White women as “birthing people” while referring to Black and Hispanic women as “mothers,” a top health official in New York City is facing backlash.
Dr. Michelle Morse, the New York City Department of Health’s chief medical officer, made the remarks in a series of tweets promoting the city’s “birth equity” plan to expand the “citywide doula program and midwifery”.
“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 appointed as the department’s first chief medical officer in February of last year, is also the deputy commissioner for the Center for Health Equity and Community Wellness, which focuses on eliminating racial imbalances.
Several social media users responded to Morse, accusing the doctor of being divisive.
“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 1920s,” wrote former New York City mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa. “According to Dr. Morse, what would that make my grandmother? How ridiculous”.
Morse’s tweet was an “oversight,” according to a DOH representative, and said, “we apologize for inadvertently gendering Black and Puerto Rican birthing people.”
Morse’s comments came just months after New York Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul branded racism in the state a “public health crisis.”
According to the NYC Health Department, Morse received 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.
The term “birthing people” has been highlighted by a number of Democrats, notably Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., and the pro-choice group NARAL.
“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 everybody.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has also been mocked for using the term “menstruating person” instead of women during an interview.
The office of New York City Mayor Eric Adams and the New York City Department of Health did not respond to Fox News immediately.