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Trump administration reportedly prohibits CDC from using words like 'transgender,' 'fetus'

20 December 2017

In other cases, no replacement words were immediately offered.

These words are necessary in language the CDC must use when reporting upon, or addressing, our nation's health issues.

"There are no banned, prohibited or forbidden words at the CDC - period", she said in a statement sent to BuzzFeed News on Monday.

The Washington Post report on December 15 quoted a CDC budget analyst as saying that a senior official at the CDC's Office of Financial Services informed those attending a meeting of CDC budget officials on December 14, that the Trump administration was banning the use of seven words from official budget documents.

By Sunday, the CDC was publicly correcting the record, saying the WaPo's report had mischaracterized budget discussions.

The Post reported that the list of banned terms arose from a 90-minute meeting held Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, and that no explanation for the changes was given.

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The news drew backlash from advocacy groups and some Democratic officials, who railed against the apparent attempt to censor the federal agency.

"CDC has a long-standing history of making public health and budget decisions that are based on the best available science and data that benefits all Americans - and we will continue to do so", Fitzgerald said, adding that the words guidance was referring to how the budget was to be presented - not as "overall guidance".

"HHS will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans", said spokesman Matt Lloyd. Never before in the history of this top public health agency has any governmental gag order been directed against it. And they said "fetus" is a scientific word needed for investigating ways to protect women and infants from Zika virus and its potentail congenital consequences or babies and children in the wake of the opioid epidemic.

On principle, I am very concerned about efforts to restrict the CDC's language in any way as it seeks to communicate with Congress and the public about its priorities for protecting and ensuring public health. "When ideology, fear, and ignorance dominate discourse in the public health arena, consequences are deadly", they wrote, noting that the federal government's unwillingness to acknowledge the appearance of HIV three decades ago enabled the disease to spread further and faster.

The report said the forbidden words are "vulnerable", "entitlement", "diversity", "transgender", "fetus", "evidence -based" and "science-based". For example, they said community sentiments could result in higher rates of unimmunized children, which could fuel more outbreaks of measles and other diseases.

Trump administration reportedly prohibits CDC from using words like 'transgender,' 'fetus'