Stillbirth charity ‘bullied’ into apologizing after using ‘birthing parent’ instead of ‘mother’

A stillbirth and baby loss charity has apologised for using the term ‘birthing parent’ instead of ‘mother’ in a Twitter post, after being accused of ‘pandering to the crazy woke’.

Sands UK, a charity that supports parents through stillbirth and neonatal death, shared a tweet online earlier this month, writing: ‘Often the focus of support and comfort is on the birthing parent, which can leave partners or non-birthing parents feeling isolated and alone. Sands is here for you.’

But the apparent attempt to be inclusive towards all people, including lesbian couples and trans-parents, was met with criticism, with many questioning the use of the term ‘birthing parents’ as opposed to ‘mothers’.

One critic commented: ‘Please, please don’t lose the word mother. Women who lose babies are still mothers and by not calling them that, erases their hopes, dreams and experience and causes more heartache – speaking from experience. Please rethink this and be kinder to women who have lost their babies.’ 

After receiving hundreds of messages, the charity went on to apologise but was further criticized by transgender activists who weren’t happy with the organisation for backing down. 

Sands UK has faced backlash from grieving mothers and been accused of 'pandering to the crazy woke' after using the term 'birthing parent' in a transgender row online (pictured, stock image) v

Sands UK has faced backlash from grieving mothers and been accused of ‘pandering to the crazy woke’ after using the term ‘birthing parent’ in a transgender row online (pictured, stock image)

A Sands UK spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘On 24 October Sands began to receive complaints on Twitter about a tweet from the 10th October that was part of Baby Loss Awareness Week’s focus on reducing isolation and was written to help raise awareness of the fact that anyone can be affected by baby loss. This tweet was aiming to raise awareness of the grief felt by bereaved parents who use surrogacy specifically.

‘The complaints centred around the fact that the term ‘birthing parent’ was used instead of ‘mother’.

‘Sands understands the distress people felt and the charity has posted the following response on Twitter: “We are so sorry that this tweet has upset some people. Our tweet should have included the word mothers. It was an error and we apologise from the bottom of our hearts. Sands is here for everyone.”

‘To be clear, we are not and never have intended to remove the word mother or father from the language that Sands uses; we know that using the words mother and father is so important.’

Shortly after their original tweet, which was shared at the start of Baby Loss Awareness week, the charity began facing criticism from grieving mothers who called their choice of words ‘an insult.’

One commented: ‘Don’t erase mothers because some people (men) feel they’re not validated enough. Honestly. How can you help mothers when you can’t even recognise their existence?’

Another wrote: ‘You are a great charity, and you do amazing work. I value what you do. Please reconsider swapping language.

‘By all means, add new descriptors, but being denied the role of “mother” is bad enough, let alone having the word to describe what has been robbed from you taken away.’ 

The charity shared a tweet earlier this month as part of Baby Loss Awareness Week in which it referred to 'birthing parents, partners and non-birthing parents'

The charity shared a tweet earlier this month as part of Baby Loss Awareness Week in which it referred to ‘birthing parents, partners and non-birthing parents’ 

After facing backlash online from many questioning the lack of the word 'mother' in the original tweet, Sands issued an apology and said it is 'here for everyone'

After facing backlash online from many questioning the lack of the word ‘mother’ in the original tweet, Sands issued an apology and said it is ‘here for everyone’

Another wrote: ‘A mother loses her baby. Stripping away her name too is not an appropriate response. Motherhood is what she is greiving.’

‘What an extraordinary cruel statement,’ another wrote. ‘Why would a charity for infant loss deny women who have lost their children the title “mother”? Talk about adding insult to injury. They are mothers and my heart breaks for them.’ 

The charity went on to share another tweet apologizing, writing: ‘We are so sorry that this tweet has upset some people. 

‘Our tweet should have included the word ‘mothers’. It was an error and we apologise from the bottom of our hearts. Sands is here for everyone.’  

Many Twitter users criticized the charity for the initial tweet, with some saying it was 'insulting' to grieving mothers to remove the word

Many Twitter users criticized the charity for the initial tweet, with some saying it was ‘insulting’ to grieving mothers to remove the word 

Some questioned the apology, with one commenting: ‘How on earth could removing the word woman or mother be anything more than a deliberate attempt to pander to the crazy woke? 

‘This apology is insulting, this was not an error. It was deliberate.’ 

Yet the organisation was then criticized by members of the LGBT+ community for the apology, with trans man and father Freddy McConnell urging the charity to ‘stand up to these bullies’.

He tweeted: ‘Birthing parent’ includes everyone – mothers, trans fathers and non-binary parents. 

Meanwhile others defended the charity was 'inclusive' and suggested critics were 'transphobic'

Meanwhile others defended the charity was ‘inclusive’ and suggested critics were ‘transphobic’ 

‘Transphobes are expert at organising pile-ons. Please don’t use inclusive language and then backtrack. Progress takes courage and we have to stand together.’

Freddy continued: ‘I knew tweeting this would result in my own lil pile on. Bullying, personal insults, left, right and centre. Expected. Whatever. Etc. 

‘But the readiness to use parental grief to justify transphobia? The chronic lack of self-awareness? That’s painful to see.’ 

Another wrote: ‘You did include them. You chose the most inclusive language that creates space for everyone. I’m sorry you’ve been harassed into making this apology.’ 

Trans man and father Freddy McConnell was among those defending the charity and urged it to 'stand up to these bullies'

Trans man and father Freddy McConnell was among those defending the charity and urged it to ‘stand up to these bullies’

One added: ‘Great use of inclusive language. Don’t give in to transphobic bigots.’

Clea Harmer, Chief Executive at Sands told FEMAIL: ‘At the heart of the work that we do at Sands are bereaved parents. 

‘What is important is that we support anyone who has suffered the devastation of the death of a baby, and that all bereaved mothers, fathers and families feel that there is a safe space where they can find the support that they so desperately need and deserve.

‘What has been so distressing about this exchange on twitter is the hurt and damage that it has caused to those bereaved mothers and fathers who we are trying to support.

‘Bereaved mothers and fathers have been attacked and abused by the hurtful and distressing exchanges on twitter. We want to continue to offer them a safe space to grieve, and to reassure all bereaved parents that we are there for them.

‘Bereaved mothers are mothers even if they don’t have a baby – imagine the effect that this exchange has had on them.’

The row comes after a group of some of Britian’s most prominent literary figures have signed a letter in support of JK Rowling, 55, after she received death threats on social media under the hashtag #RIPJKRowling.

The Harry Potter author has faced prolonged criticism from transgender activists since objecting the term ‘people who menstruate’ being used instead of ‘women’. 

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