The HSE and women


Sir, – As per Paul Cullen’s recent article (“HSE defends removing references to ‘women’ in online cervical cancer information”, News, September 17th), the HSE has removed all references to the word “women” in their online information about cervical cancer screening. Instead, it is using the phrase “anyone with a cervix’”.

In trying to be inclusive, the HSE has excluded the target audience for screening, yes, the target audience of women.

As many as 48 per cent of women with English as their first language do not know the term cervix, and the number is higher for women where English is a second language.

Obscuring who this service targets seems highly irresponsible given the HSE’s track record when it comes to cervical screening. Reducing women to their body parts comes across as misogyny. As your reporter noted, the HSE does not apply this to men. Men remain men, not “anyone with a prostate”.

Surely the HSE can do better than this? – Yours, etc,



Dublin 8.

Sir, – Now that the HSE has removed the word “woman” from its literature pertaining to cervical cancer, it would be helpful to know if it sees any useful application of the term “woman” in relation to medical services. Does the word any longer have meaning in a medical context?

This action represents a significant move away from the understanding of biological differences between men and women. If the HSE no longer recognises these differences, it is surely incumbent on it to explain the science behind its abandonment of the category of “women” in relation to its service. Or has it abandoned science too? – Yours, etc,



Co Mayo.