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CDC receives a list of forbidden words

21 December 2017

The terms are "vulnerable", "entitlement", "diversity", "transgender", "fetus", "evidence-based" and "science-based".

In other words, what happened regarding these other terms ("transgender", "fetus", "evidence-based", and "science-based") was not that retrograde Republicans ordered career CDC officials not to use these terms but that career CDC officials assumed retrograde Republicans would be triggered by such words and, in an effort to avoid having such Republicans cut their budgets, reasoned they might be best avoided. She spoke on condition of anonymity, saying she was not authorized to talk about what happened.

But CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald said in Twitter posts on Sunday "there are no banned, prohibited or forbidden words at the CDC, period". "Furthermore, the American public deserves to know the degree to which the Trump-Pence Administration has interfered with the life-saving work of the CDC".

CDC receives a list of forbidden words

"We write regarding concerning reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and potentially the Department of Health and Human Services, are discouraging the use of specific words or phrases in official FY19 budget documents", the senators wrote.

But Fitzgerald did not deny that some staff may have been instructed to avoid certain language in key budget documents.

The source in the Washington Post report said budget officials recommended replacing "evidence-based" or "science-based" with the phrase "science in consideration with community norms and standards", which the three groups today called unsafe and misleading. The Office of Management and Budget receives proposals from federal agencies for the president's 2019 budget and has a final say on what is included.

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A spokesman at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees CDC, said in a statement that it's a mischaracterization to say the CDC was banned from using certain words.

Another HHS official who was not present for the conversation gave a different account of the CDC meeting. She reiterated the HHS statement, which also said the department also strongly encourages the used of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions. A White House official referred questions to HHS. "I have a deep sympathy for the predicament that they are in", Dr. Galea said.

As individuals and groups continue to weigh in today, three infectious disease organizations issued a joint statement that said they were deeply concerned about reports that budget documents submitted to Congress by the CDC may be censored for certain terms.

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Our nation's public research universities are committed to continuing their strong partnership with the federal government, including the CDC, in both conducting the research to better understand diseases and other public health concerns as well as delivering treatments and developing methods for limiting outbreaks and systemic health crises. "Everybody's afraid to do their job right now", he said.

The Post did not identify its source but said, "Other CDC officials confirmed the existence of a list of forbidden words".

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CDC receives a list of forbidden words