Josh Hawley says women are ‘people who give birth’ then gets in a muddle over vaginas

The Missouri Republican stumbled to define what a woman before muddling over what a ‘vagina’ was

Johanna Chisholm
Friday 08 April 2022 00:28 BST
Marsha Blackburn asks Ketanji Brown Jackson to 'define a woman'

A question about defining “woman” – one that baffled Republicans last month during Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearings and was also labelled by Senator Marsha Blackburn as “fundamental” to being able to answer – is proving to be a stumbling block for GOP lawmakers to provide a succinct answer to.

One in particular, Sen Josh Hawley, who spent his time during the confirmation hearings grilling Judge Jackson over her record on punishing sex offenders, seemed not only unable to provide a clear answer to the question that only weeks earlier he and fellow Republicans on the Judiciary Committee panned, but genuinely confused about how human anatomy works.

In a series of hallway interviews, HuffPost asked Republicans who sat on the Judiciary Committee the same question that their House and Senate colleagues have mocked as being simple and straightforward: how to define a woman.

Their answers ranged from textbook Republican (Sen Thom Tillis responded to the question by saying “my wife”) to more genetic (Sen Chuck Grassley echoed the definition Sen Blackburn provided initially, “A woman is born with two X-chromosomes”). But Sen Hawley’s comments were perhaps the most quizzical, and have led to the internet erupting in a widespread panning of what seemed to be his grave misunderstanding of human anatomy.

When prompted by the reporter’s question, Mr Hawley boldly began by explaining that womanhood is inherently tied to a person’s ability to give birth, saying: “Someone who can give birth to a child, a mother, is a woman,” Mr Hawley said, before adding “someone who has a uterus is a woman. It doesn’t seem that complicated to me.”

The reporter then poked a hole in his logic by asking if a woman has had her uterus removed, a procedure that the CDC estimates 20 million people in the country have done, then would that disqualify them from being included in Mr Hawley’s definition?

Mr Hawley responded to the question by asking another question: “Yeah. Well, I don’t know, would they?” When pressed further by the reporter about whether or not a woman would still be defined as such if she, for instance, lost her reproductive organs to cancer, he again answered with a question: “I mean, a woman has a vagina, right?”

Reactions online to the Missouri Republican politician’s stumbling were swift and unrelenting, with many taking time to point out the irony of the lawmaker struggling to answer the question he and his colleagues had for weeks mocked as being straightforward.

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