The Women's Medical Fund has Renamed Itself


Here in Pennsylvania, the Woman’s Medical Fund provides financial aid to people who want to have an abortion. Cool.

They have just renamed themselves the Abortion Liberation Fund of Pennsylvania. OK, I can dig it.

But why the name change? For inclusivity.

“We worry that if somebody is trans or gender-nonconforming and they get pregnant, they won’t even know that there is financial support out there for them to get an abortion,” Elicia Gonzales, executive director of ALF-PA, told Billy Penn.

Am I correct in saying they seem to be concerned that someone who identifies as a man might need the services of this group? I would have thought that anyone who could have an abortion is sort of by definition a woman. At the very least anyone who needs an abortion and who is not a woman is a very special and rare case.

I swear, it seems that the word “woman” is now seen as dangerous and to be avoided. Oddly, I do not see the same sort of caution about the word “man.”

Anyway, for your comments as to your thoughts.

My thoughts are that it’s nice that they are being inclusive of transmen and other gender non-conforming people.

This statement is pretty offensive. Transmen are men, not women, and may be able to get pregnant.

I disagree with this statement. For example, here’s an article about prostates from the Mayo clinic:

One quote:

  • Obesity. People who are obese may have a higher risk of prostate cancer compared with people considered to have a healthy weight, though studies have had mixed results. In obese people, the cancer is more likely to be more aggressive and more likely to return after initial treatment.

Note how it doesn’t say “men who are obese…”, even though the vast majority of women don’t have prostates. In fact, I don’t think it uses the word “men” anywhere in the article. It must be seen as dangerous and to be avoided. Or, and I’m just spitballing here, lots of places are trying to be more trans-inclusive.

Pardon me, and before the thread devolves into yelling and shouting, do you suspect many men are pregnant in Pennsylvania in any given year? Those men who do become pregnant … well I sort of suspect that the name change while pandering to them is not really helping them.

Probably not too many. So what? How does changing the name to accommodate transmen and other gender non-conforming people hurt them or anyone?

It never would have occurred to me that they changed their name to get rid of the word “Women”, but rather to make it clear they are about abortions and abortion rights, not the nebulous “health”. From your article, it looks like it was both:

It’s an attempt at being more inclusive of people who need access to abortions — and also being more direct about the group’s mission.

Clear words usually indicate clear thinking.

On the other hand, one cannot be clearer than the “Abortion Liberation Fund of Pennsylvania.”

I agree with this. “The Women’s Medical Fund” was anything but clear.

I’m not really sure what the debate is here. Did you mean to post this in MPSIMS or IMHO?

It seems people often disagree with where I post things. I suspect this will lead to a Great Debate over the recent trend toward avoiding the word “woman.”

In any case, I am about to take a nap.

Is this thread about a hypothetical trend to avoid the word “woman”, or about a name change for that PA abortion services group? And, did the article I posted about prostates that didn’t use the word “man” change your mind at all?

If it’s about avoiding the word woman, I think you’re wrong about that as well, but maybe you can provide some cites. I think that the word “woman” might be getting used less when talking about biology, since transmen share many of the same health concerns that cis-women have (just like transwomen and cis-men), but in regular everyday contexts? I’d like to see some evidence of that.

Oh, please feel free to discuss what you will.

As for a cite, I cannot say I have one. I did find this Ngram interesting, but surely not authoritative.

An Ngram search

Yes, that’s exactly what I said – it may be getting used less in biological contexts, but I’d like to see evidence that it’s getting less use in everyday contexts.

You wrote:

Please provide a cite for this, especially that it’s “dangerous”. And, I already provided a counter-cite about the word man, also being avoided in a medical context (but, not because it’s “dangerous” of course). Your ngram search was pretty narrowed down by looking for “…who are pregnant” and doesn’t indicate much to me about general usage of the word “woman”.

ETA: I just changed your search to look for usage of the word “women” and another for “woman” and both show small increases at the end. Amazing!

To distinguish themselves from the Pennsylvania Abortion Liberation Fund and the Pennsylvania Fund of Abortion Liberation. Splitters!

Can’t you read what you just quoted? They are worried that somebody who is trans or gender-nonconforming and gets pregnant might not know that the services of a group called “Women’s Medical Fund” are available to them, because they don’t identify as women.

Depends which definition you’re using, obviously. Are you really confused about this?

Well, you’d certainly think so from the conniption fits thrown by many transphobic people over the fact that transgender women are referred to as “women”.

Most of the rest of us have zero concerns about using the word “woman” appropriately. Just because we’re willing to modify our use of gender terms for greater clarity about the complicated realities of sex and gender doesn’t mean that we think the word “woman” is in any way “dangerous and to be avoided”.

Good. So what are you kvetching about again?

An abortion services group decided to change its name to a more unambiguous designation which also more accurately reflects the reality that not everyone who can get pregnant self-identifies as a woman. I am baffled as to why you would think this is in any way problematic.

I have noticed the trend, too, even in my own writing. For the most part, I think it’s a good thing. It means that people are being more mindful of what they say and who it could affect. We may be unsure of how to proceed and hypercorrect things that don’t really need correcting, but that’ll work itself out eventually.

I suppose most everything has some legitimate use, and most anything can be overused.

This is complete nonsense, of course. In our more enlightened world, the words “woman” and “man” are used more inclusively, to reference people’s fundamental identity.

A corollary to this more inclusive usage is that in a few contexts that narrowly reference a person’s physiology rather than who they are, terminology that clearly references physiology or a specific medical issue is more precise and more appropriate.

But I think you know all this, and the “Great Debate” that you’re looking for is the proposition “all this stuff about gender identity is nonsense, whether you’re a man or woman is determined by whether you have a penis or a vagina”. I don’t think you’ll find much traction for a “debate” about that here, but you might try visiting your Pit thread if you want a response.

This is an argument that frustrates me greatly. Why is it supposed to matter that the minority is, well, a minority? The whole thing we’ve been learning about bigotry is that the majority is not the only group that matters. Nothing has changed: it’s still wrong to exclude a minority because it makes a supposed majority uncomfortable. (And I say “supposed” because it really seems like there are more women for trans rights than against them.)

I don’t get why it’s being made again. I get why certain groups are getting more desperate as people pay more attention to trans rights, but not why people are falling for their rhetoric. It’s the same stuff as always. Somehow there’s always a way that accommodating the minority is harmful to the majority.

This is clearly the worst example. You’d think people would be happy that an organization is coming out and saying they are an abortion group, rather than having to hide behind the idea of women’s medicine. Heck, I’d expect the right wing to be all gaga saying “See, we told you!”

But the narrative going around now is that cisgender women are being oppressed because medicine is trying to be more inclusive. And the greater narrative is that trans people and trans acceptance are dangerous to women. It’s the new “think of the children.”

Special cases are special. General language is general. A word like “woman” or “mother” is not to be avoided in favor of some linguistic gymnastic because it is not offensive.


Oh, I see this has been moved to the Pit. Therefore I shall not comment further.

As no debate
but some offense
dumped into the pit
where it better fits.
What Exit?!


Well, I think we can all agree on that, and embrace the continued use of “woman” and “mother” to reference women and mothers.

And since this has apparently been moved to the Pit just as I’m typing my post, go fuck yourself you disingenuous transphobe.

In the future please only place Ops in GD where you actually frame a debate.

Combined with the swipe at transgender folk, I thought seriously about giving you a warning. But consider this a strongly worded Modnote.