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Brown professor apologizes for saying pregnant women have ‘husbands’ in coronavirus newsletter

‘I got probably 20 angry emails’

In case you thought our panic over the coronavirus had displaced other triggers, here’s a reminder that academia continues.

A Brown University economist who specializes in “evidence-based pregnancy and parenting” apologized to readers of her newsletter, which has recently taken up COVID-19 concerns, for unintentionally implying that only heterosexuals get pregnant.

Referring to a new practice in many New York City delivery wards – “no one other than the laboring woman can be there” – Emily Oster (above) wrote Tuesday that “there are safety reasons for this,” citing the threat of “[a]symptomatic or mildly symptomatic people” who enter the premises.

Oster’s original newsletter said: “There are enough [virus] tests to test women in labor, but not their husbands.”

A commenter on the article requested that Oster “examine your presumption of heterosexuality,” to which Oster replied that she had edited the passage and apologized on Twitter: “I’m trying to work quickly and this missed my edit. I am deeply, deeply sorry.”

That Twitter apology reads:

I know some people were triggered by the use of the word “husband”; I am so sorry! I tried to be careful here and will be more so in future. This was reference to a historical context, but I get it. …

Thanks for reading, even if I mess up sometimes…

She told an incredulous Twitter user that “I got probably 20 angry emails” about the “husbands” reference.

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Oster’s post has not been archived anywhere The College Fix could find, and a cached version on Google quickly redirects from the post to “page not found,” so it’s not apparent what other changes Oster may have made following criticism.

The word “husband” still appears twice, in a paragraph about how spouses in the delivery room were not historically common in the U.S. The word “partner” appears 10 times, including in Oster’s revision of the triggering “husbands” sentence.

Another Twitter user ballyhooed the triggered reaction, noting Oster’s only other use of “husband” was historical.

Read Oster’s post and follow her on Twitter.

MORE: Campus newspaper grovels before its minority staff

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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