A new mum’s anger over a ‘dehumanising’ detail in a Medicare form has triggered an immediate response from the Commonwealth government, who have vowed to remove it from the paperwork.
Sall Grover, who runs a women’s social networking app called Giggle, made headlines this week when she spoke out about being asked to sign the form following the birth of her daughter at a Gold Coast hospital.
At the bottom of the paperwork, which would allow her daughter to be included on her Medicare card, it asked for the “birthing parent’s” signature.
The irate mum told The Daily Telegraph she was so horrified by the language used that she crossed it out and wrote “mother” instead.
She also took to Twitter to alert other Australian women.
“Attention women in Australia: On the form to put our newborn baby on our Medicare card, we are referred to as ‘birthing parent’,” she wrote.
“Enough is enough.
“This absolute bulls**t is exclusionary, alienating and derogatory towards every woman [who] wants to be and is called ‘mother’.”
Ms Grover said having to sign her name next to the title “birthing parent” on a government form “is just too close to a Handmaids Tale dystopia for [her] to feel relaxed and ‘inclusive’.”
Having to sign my name next to the title “birthing parent” on a government form is just too close to a Handmaids Tale dystopia for me to feel relaxed & “inclusive” to be honest, & I’m quite apprehensive of anyone who is happy to be called “birthing parent” on a government form.
— Sall Grover (@salltweets) July 19, 2022
“And I’m quite apprehensive of anyone who is happy to be called ‘birthing parent’ on a government form.”
While speaking to Today, Ms Grover said the term is “dehumanising, ridiculous” language that society is being expected to accept to “please fringe activists and lobbyists”.
“I think it doesn’t take a genius to realise that the term birthing parent isn’t inclusive of anyone, particularly mothers who don’t want to be called birthing parents, adoptive mothers, stepmothers, gay men who are parents who have obviously not given birth,” she said.
“I know enough about what’s happening at the moment with men’s rights and the erosion of our language and spaces and whatnot so I know where it’s coming from, and so the fact that it was on this government form, saying birthing parent, just shocked me.”
Bill Shorten removes term after backlash
According to The Daily Telegraph, Services Australia, who is in charge of the forms, said the paperwork is being handed out as part of the Birth of a Child pilot trialing an easier, digital process for parents to register their kids with Medicare.
Services Australia general manager Hank Jongen told the publication the term was trialled before being used.
However, after hearing about Ms Grover’s gripe, Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten announced he was removing “birthing parent” from the form.
1/3 Just regarding the story in the Daily Tele about a form that was part of a pilot program launched in 3 hospitals under the previous Coalition Government.
— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) July 20, 2022
“Just regarding the story in the Daily Tele about a form that was part of a pilot program launched in 3 hospitals under the previous Coalition Government,” he tweeted on Thursday.
“When I was informed of this situation yesterday, I instructed the responsible officials they should cease using the previous government’s forms.
“They will be replaced with new forms that use the word mother, not birthing parent, which is consistent with other Medicare forms.”
Senate last year banned 'distorted general-neutral language'
In March last year the Senate voted to ban "distorted general-neutral language" after a motion was put forward by One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts.
Mr Roberts’ motion said that “our fundamental biology and relationships are represented through the following descriptors – mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister, boy, girl, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, female, male, man, woman, lady, gentleman, Mr, Mrs, Ms, sir, madam, dad, mum, husband, wife", Kidspot reported.
The motion called on the ban of language including chest-feeding, human milk, birthing and non-birthing parent. The motion was passed 33 to 31.
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