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Bill Shorten defends decision to change ‘birth parent’ back to ‘mother’ on health care form

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Fears of an “ugly” culture war led the government to backtrack on a proposal to use “birth parent” instead of “mother” on a care form, Bill Shorten has revealed.

The new consent forms were introduced at three hospitals across Australia as a way to digitally upload new baby data to Medicare.

The document asked for “birth parent’s full name” in one box and “birth parent’s signature” in another instead of “mother.”

Mr Shorten, Minister for NDIS and Public Services, reversed the conditions last Thursday before revealing Monday why he made the decision.

“I’m sure my instinct to defuse ugly culture wars is right,” he said Sydney Morning Herald.

“There are many people who find the word ‘mother’ special and valuable, and there are others who think their identity doesn’t belong – each has a legitimate point of view.

“We just have to get better at not having to have one view at the expense of another.”

Bill Shorten has defended a decision to change the term “birth parent” back to “mother” on a health form, saying he wanted to avoid a culture war

The new consent forms have been introduced at three hospitals across Australia as a way to digitally upload new baby data to Medicare

The new consent forms have been introduced at three hospitals across Australia as a way to digitally upload new baby data to Medicare

Mr Shorten said removing the word ‘mother’ did not help the ’cause of diversity and tolerance’.

He argued that replacing the term with “birth parent” would cause confusion among migrant families unaware of gender-neutral titles.

Services Australia said the new forms rolled out in March and have been completed by 1,100 parents since launch.

Services Australia managing director Hank Jongen told the Daily Telegraph that the new terms had been “tested before being tried”.

Greens leader Adam Bandt criticized Mr Shorten for reversing the decision, saying the term “birth parent” also included LGBTQ+ people.

Mr Shorten’s decision to change the titles on the forms comes after a new Gold Coast mom labeled the forms “offensive” and “alienating” to women who wanted to be called mothers.

Sall Grover said she was shocked by the new consent forms that were handed to her shortly after the birth of her newborn baby.

Sall Grover, of the Gold Coast, said she was shocked by the new consent forms handed to her shortly after the birth of her newborn baby.

Sall Grover, of the Gold Coast, said she was shocked by the new consent forms handed to her shortly after the birth of her newborn baby.

“Women in Australia take note: on the form to put our newborn baby on our Medicare card, we are called ‘birth parent,'” Ms Grover wrote.

‘Enough is enough. This absolute bulls*** is exclusive, alienating and denigrating any woman who wants to be and be called “mother”.

“I know enough about what’s happening right now with women’s rights and the erosion of our language and spaces, so I know where it’s coming from.”

During an interview with the Today Show last Thursday, she said the new consent forms were simply to please fringe activists and lobbyists.

“The fact that this government form said ‘birth parent’ shocked me,” she said.

Sall Grover (pictured) told Today Show hosts on Thursday that she was shocked by the new consent form

Sall Grover (pictured) told Today Show hosts on Thursday that she was shocked by the new consent form

Today presenter Karl Stefanovic said he “couldn’t believe” the form had changed in the first place, describing it as “bureaucratic madness”.

Poll

Do you think the word ‘mother’ should be replaced with ‘birth parent’?

  • Yes 346 votes
  • no 3531 votes
  • Insecure 32 votes

“Motherhood is about so much more than that, it’s every other day from then on, you have your first few days of excitement, being part of that and then you see ‘give parent’, you diminish the role of me to be her here get,” replied Mrs. Grover.

She called on those offended by the term “mother” to “seek help.”

“If the word ‘mother’ bothers you that much, I mean motherhood is going to be quite a shock. Get help, deal with it if the word ‘mother’ bothers you,” she said.

Today, host Ally Langdon said that as a mother, she herself found the term “birth parent” dehumanizing.

“I feel divided about it if I’m being very honest. As someone who does identify as a mother, I see that and it’s a little off-putting to see the biological parent,” she said.

“It’s dehumanizing to me.

“But I understand when the surrogate is and, you know, it’s not one bill for everyone.”

An emphatic Karl Stefanovic (left) said he 'couldn't believe' the shape had changed in the first place

An emphatic Karl Stefanovic (left) said he ‘couldn’t believe’ the shape had changed in the first place

Gold Coast's mother posted a photo of the new consent form on Twitter on Tuesday, describing it as

Gold Coast’s mother posted a photo of the new consent form on Twitter on Tuesday, describing it as “exclusive, alienating and derogatory”

The new mom reappeared on the Today Show later that morning after news broke that the new forms had been dumped.

“Since that interview aired, Bill Shorten, who is a regular on the show, has been in touch to confirm that these forms have been dumped,” Stefanovic said.

“Replaced by new ones that use the word ‘mother’ and not ‘birth parent’.”

Mrs Grover said it was “great news.”

“I was actually just talking about it with my own mother and I said it’s great, fantastic. No complaint,” she told the hosts.

“It doesn’t take a genius to think it should have been ‘mother’ all along.”

Mrs. Grover likened the title 'birth parent' to something from the Handmaids Tale (pictured)

Mrs. Grover likened the title ‘birth parent’ to something from the Handmaids Tale (pictured)

While the new mom received an outpouring of support from Aussies, some pointed out that the word “mother” alienates other groups, such as same-sex couples, adopted parents, and surrogate mothers.

“A form that uses inclusive language is not wiping/stealing your rights or whatever other nonsense you suggest,” one said.

Why is it okay to alienate other groups to keep you happy?

“It removes ambiguity for situations involving: lesbian couples, gestational surrogacy, non-cis parents, adoptive parents and many more situations.

‘Using ‘birth parent’ makes it clear and simple which person they need the signature of.’

Twitter users pointed out that the form estranged groups such as same-sex couples and surrogates

Twitter users pointed out that the form estranged groups such as same-sex couples and surrogates

Some Twitter users pointed out that it was only one form and that children were not forced to call their mothers

Some Twitter users pointed out that it was only one form and that children were not forced to call their mothers ‘birth parents’

However, others agreed that the words “birth parent” were not on the form.

‘Scandalous. Becoming a mother was the most special time of my entire existence. It redefined everything I thought I knew about myself,” one wrote.

‘Let’s call ourselves MOTHER! Cross it out and put “mother”.’

“Anyone who sees this on forms should strike out the offending words and capitalize MOTHER,” agreed another.

“If there is space, write on the form that their description is offensive to women. This has come about because a small minority continues to be abusive.’

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