Lancet Editor Apologises for Cover Calling Women ‘Bodies With Vaginas’

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03: A discarded placard which reads 'future has no gender' at today's Brighton Pride on August 3, 2019 in Brighton, England. Brighton and Hove Pride is one of the largest Pride parades in Europe. (Photo by Andrew Hasson/Getty Images)
Andrew Hasson/Getty Images

The editor of a top British medical journal has apologised after it described women as “bodies with vaginas” on the cover of its latest issue.

The editor-in-chief of The Lancet, Richard Horton issued an apology on Monday in response to controversy over the journal’s September cover, which featured an excerpt from an article titled ‘Periods on display’, which stated: “Historically, the anatomy and physiology of bodies with vaginas have been neglected.”

“I would like to thank all those who have responded to the words on this week’s Lancet cover and understand the strength of feeling it has provoked. The Lancet strives for maximum inclusivity of all people in its vision for advancing health,” Horton said in a statement.

“In this instance, we have conveyed the impression that we have dehumanised and marginalised women. Those who read The Lancet regularly will understand that this would never have been our intention. I apologise to our readers who were offended by the cover quote and the use of those same words in the review.”

Horton, who has served as the editor-in-chief of The Lancet for over 25 years, went on to defend the message the journal was trying to convey however, saying that “transgender health is an important dimension of modern health care, but one that remains neglected. Trans people regularly face stigma, discrimination, exclusion, and poor health, often experiencing difficulties accessing appropriate health care.”

“The exhibition review from which The Lancet cover quote was taken is a compelling call to empower women, together with non-binary, trans, and intersex people who have experienced menstruation, and to address the myths and taboos that surround menstruation,” he added.

“The review, like the exhibition, puts these myths and taboos into historical context. The review calls for greater efforts to overcome the lack of knowledge and stigma too often associated with menstruation. These are serious issues that demand serious actions. We encourage people to read the full review and support a growing movement against menstrual shame and period poverty.”

The cover has drawn considerable backlash in Britain, with honorary professor of genetics at University College London Professor David Curtis saying: “Just wrote The Lancet to tell them to take me off their list of statistical reviewers and cancel my subscription and never contact me about anything ever again.”

“Absolutely inexcusable language to refer to women and girls,” he added.

Dr Madeleine Ní Dhálaigh said: “Naming women as ‘bodies with vaginas’ is a new low, all in the misguided pursuit of woke points. You can be inclusive without being insulting and abusive.

“How dare you dehumanise us with a statement like this?”

The feminist campaign group Women Make Glasgow said that they have issued a formal complaint over the “dehumanising and straight up sexist cover story.”

The controversy comes amid a political row in Britain over whether it is correct to say that men cannot have cervixes.

Over the weekend, Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer claiming that it is incorrect to say that only women can have cervixes, saying: “It is something that shouldn’t be said. It is not right.”

The Tory government’s Health Secretary, Sajid Javid ridiculed the left-wing leader’s comments as a “total denial of scientific fact”.

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