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Abortion Access Doesn't Only Affect Women

The end of Roe v. Wade will impact everyone, including men and nonbinary, trans and intersex people.

The US Supreme Court building against a blurred cloudy sky.
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For more information about your reproductive health rights and related federal resources, you can visit the US government's Reproductive Rights site.

In June, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, effectively ending the constitutional right to an abortion and allowing individual states to decide whether to institute bans or not. The end of Roe will have a ripple effect on women's health care at large, even beyond abortion access -- miscarriages, birth control and fertility treatments could all be impacted.

But it's not just a matter of women's rights. Abortion access affects anyone who's capable of getting pregnant, which may include trans men and intersex, nonbinary or gender expansive people. All these individuals are impacted by abortion policy, but for trans and intersex people, it may be even more difficult to access competent health care.

Below, learn more about how trans and intersex people are affected by pregnancy and abortion laws, why inclusivity matters and what it looks like in practice.

Not just women

There are 1.4 million transgender adults in the United States, a figure that is likely a vast underestimate. Many transgender men are capable of getting pregnant because they have a uterus and ovaries. And there are many people who are nonbinary, genderqueer or otherwise don't fit neatly into the categories of "man" or "woman," who can also get pregnant. Additionally, intersex people can get pregnant if they have a uterus and ovaries.

Though it's hard to fight the centuries-old idea that womanhood and childbirth are inextricably linked, the ability to get pregnant doesn't automatically make someone a woman. The reverse is also true -- not all women can get pregnant, including trans women and cis-gender women (someone assigned female at birth who identifies with that label) with fertility issues or who've had their ovaries or uterus removed.

White-haired person in scrubs talks to a genderfluid-presenting patient.
FG Trade/Getty Images

Why inclusivity matters

Much of the language around pregnancy and abortion is targeted toward cis women -- right down to popular terms such as "women's rights" and "mommy brain." And while the majority of pregnant people are indeed cis women, the heavy focus on gender can be alienating for many people.

Trans, nonbinary and intersex people also have unique reproductive needs, and they routinely experience a lack of awareness or resources in health care settings.

That's why it's important to use inclusive language when talking about pregnancy, abortion, parenting and reproductive health in general. At CNET, we use gender-neutral terms like "people" instead of "women." 

Gendered terms like "mom" and "breastfeeding" will always have a place, too; many women love and use these terms often. But we shouldn't assume that they apply to everyone. Updating your terminology is an easy switch that can go a long way toward improving outcomes for pregnant people of all genders.

A close-up of a pregnant belly, with two interlinked hands embracing it.

Inclusive terms for pregnancy or abortion

Pregnant people: When in doubt, you can't go wrong with simply using the word "people" wherever you would previously use "women." The term "people" is about as inclusive as you can get -- it includes everybody. Other options include "individual," "patient" or "parent."

Using the term "people" also forces you to be more specific, rather than making gendered generalizations. For example, you might say "people who can get pregnant" or "people who menstruate," instead of just "women." This has the bonus benefit of being more mindful of women who don't have uteruses, don't menstruate or can't get pregnant for whatever reason.

Human right: When it comes to abortion bans, the phrase "a woman's right to choose" often pops up. A more inclusive alternative is to refer to abortion care as a human right instead.

Birthing parent or gestational parent: This term can replace "mother" to refer to an individual who carries and gives birth to a baby. It's also useful for same-sex couples in which both parents are mothers, but only one physically carries the child.

Chestfeeding: Some trans and non-binary parents choose to feed their babies with their own milk. You can swap out "chest" for "breast," and "chestfeeding" for "breastfeeding." Refer to the milk as "chest milk" or "human milk."

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.