A Florida state lawmaker has apologized after describing pregnant women as “host bodies” of unborn children during an interview last week, saying his intent was not to offend, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
House Speaker Jose Oliva repeatedly used the term while speaking with Jim DeFede of CBS Miami.
“As technology moves along, a human body can exist outside of its host body earlier and earlier,” Oliva said. “And so then one has to think, until what time does the host body have veto power over this other life? … The question is: What is the value of that life? And is it subordinate to the value of its host body?”
Florida Democratic Chair Terry Rizzo said the Republican’s words were “hurtful, dehumanizing and misogynistic,” adding: “You’d expect to hear this offensive language in the ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ — not from the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.”
State Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, tweeted in response to Oliva’s comments: “With all due respect Mr. Speaker, my body is not a ‘host’ and personal medical decisions around my pregnancy belong to me, my family, my doctor, and my faith— not to politicians.”
Oliva said his goal in using the term was to give the discussion a more sterile, medical feel in hopes of avoiding the emotional element that surrounds the subject of abortion.
Saying “host” rather than woman or mother “was an attempt to use terminology found in medical ethics writings with the purpose of keeping the discussion dispassionate,” he said in a statement on Friday.
“The reaction undoubtedly shows it had the exact opposite effect,” he continued. “I apologize for having caused offense, my aim was the contrary. This is and will continue to be our society’s greatest challenge. I strongly believe both mother and child have rights and the extent and balance of those rights remain in question. I regret my wording has distracted from the issue. My apologies to all.”