LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The newest executive order signed by Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders is one she said is aimed at putting a stop to silencing women and motherhood.
It removes “woke” language from state documents such as, “pregnant people,” “birth giver” and “laboring person.”
It also calls out specific words, such as “chestfeeding,” mandating that “breastfeeding” be used. Another example is where “birthing person” not be used and “birth mom” be the mandated term.
“They’re using nonsense words to erase women and girls and more importantly to erase our voices and our experiences,” Sanders said in her press conference Thursday.
She referenced an Arkansas Department of Health document where one of these terms is used, while adding that there are other instances she did not specify that her office has received reports of.
It shows where the term “pregnant people” was used in a drinking water update for the state. It mentions certain chemicals could be harmful for “pregnant people.”
The spokesperson said this is the only document from the department where any of the newly banned terms are used.
The order has received pushback over the last 24 hours from people on social media, with many pointing out the maternal mortality rate in Arkansas that they believe should be the focus, instead, for the governor and state leaders.
According to Arkansas Centers for Health Improvement, Arkansas ranks first in the nation for maternal mortality and third for infant mortality.
“I don’t think that the majority of Arkansans care what the language that’s being used is,” Social Worker and Young Democrats President, Allison Sweatman said. “They want to make sure themselves and their loved ones are cared for.”
Sweatman said she feels the announcement is a distraction from other controversy surrounding the governor, including what has become known as “podium gate.”
She referenced the group of women standing behind Sanders while she signed the executive order and said she was disheartened.
“That’s something that was really striking to me – seeing the governor sign this executive order that uses women as pawns in a culture war does not solve problems,” she said.
Sweatman said to address the mortality issues, she thinks the governor could expand health care access to maternal health care and address Arkansans disenrolled from Medicaid in the most recent report.
When the report was released, Sanders’ spokesperson emphasized that the state was complying with federal law to remove Medicaid recipients who are no longer eligible for the program.
In the 2023 legislative session, Sanders signed a few bills into law that address maternal and infant care.
TheUniversal Newborn Screening Act expands the list of medical disorders that doctors screen for after birth.
The governor also signed into law a bill requiring Medicaid to cover depression screenings for women during pregnancy.