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CDC Reportedly Bans Seven Words, Including “Fetus” and “Transgender”

Exterior of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) headquarters is seen on October 13, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Frieden urged hospitals to watch for patients with Ebola symptoms who have traveled from the tree Ebola stricken African countries.
Exterior of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) headquarters is seen on October 13, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Update at 2:25 p.m.: The Health and Human Services Department disputed the Washington Post report on Saturday, claiming it was a “complete mischaracterization” to say that certain words have been banned. “The assertion that HHS has ‘banned words’ is a complete mischaracterization of discussions regarding the budget formulation process,” an HHS spokesman said in a statement. “HHS will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans. HHS also strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions.”

Original post: There is now a list of words that workers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are forbidden from using in any documents that are written for next year’s budget, reveals the Washington Post. The seven words and phrases are: Vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based, and science-based.

Senior CDC officials told policy analysts about the change on Thursday and the people hearing the news were “incredulous,” the Washington Post’s source said. “It was very much, ‘Are you serious? Are you kidding?’” The only reason there hasn’t been a bigger backlash within the CDC is that the scientists at the agency have likely not heard about the news. “Our subject matter experts will not lay down quietly — this hasn’t trickled down to them yet,” the source said.

Although the analysts were not told the reason for the ban, they were given a few alternatives. The Post explains:

Instead of “science-based” or ­“evidence-based,” the suggested phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” the person said. In other cases, no replacement words were immediately offered.

The report immediately led to criticism from numerous fronts, including Planned Parenthood. “It’s clearer than ever: this administration has disdained women’s health, LGBTQ people, and science since day one,” the organization wrote in a tweet.

Dana Singiser, Planned Parenthood’s vice president of public policy and government affairs, called the move “unimaginably dangerous” because it would prevent the CDC from doing its job. “It is unimaginably dangerous to forbid the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from speaking about things essential to Americans’ health,” she said. “This edict doesn’t just mean a change in vocabulary. It means the Trump-Pence administration is trying to make a radical change in the focus of the entire agency.”

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