Idea of a list of banned words is subversive

21 December, 2017, 01:11 | Author: Leticia Riley
  • The Trump administration reportedly told agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services to avoid using certain words or phrases in official documents being drafted for next year's budget A spokesperson from the HHS disputes this

Sen. Schatz notes that according to reports, words to avoid in official budget documents at the CDC include "vulnerable", "entitlement", "diversity", "transgender", "fetus", "evidence-based" and "science-based".

The Trump administration is prohibiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using the words vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based and science-based.

In a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services, and Office of Management and Budget, the senators ask about the development and dissemination of any discouraged words, the legality and enforcement of such a policy, and the policies in place to ensure the scientific integrity of the health agencies.

But CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald said in Twitter posts on Sunday "there are no banned, prohibited or forbidden words at the CDC, period". "It was never intended as overall guidance for how we describe and conduct CDC's work", Fitzgerald said.

"We are especially stunned that "evidence-based" and "science-based" are reportedly among the barred terms", the presidents of the three groups said in a statement Monday, adding that these approaches were fundamental to the groups' creation.

Idea of a list of banned words is subversive
Idea of a list of banned words is subversive

HHS has been under fire for guidance its budget writers received last week, which identified certain words they should not use in narratives they are preparing for the Fiscal Year 2019 budget process.

Since President Donald Trump took office, a number of federal agencies have moved to downscale data collection on topics like climate change and homeless people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender and to remove information on such topics from some government websites.

In comments to the Post, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) CEO Rush Holt echoed this sentiment in a tough statement of his own: "Among the words forbidden to be used in CDC budget documents are "evidence-based" and 'science-based.' I suppose one must not think those things either".

Another HHS official who was not present for the conversation gave a different account of the CDC meeting. "HHS also strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions". The White House and some Republican lawmakers have proposed dramatic reductions to the agency's $7 billion discretionary budget. He said two CDC employees told him agency workers have been told not to use the term "health equity" in presentations or public talks.

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. The term refers to a goal of removing obstacles like poverty and racial discrimination in making sure people have an equal chance to be healthy. She told the group there were other words too, but officials are avoiding writing them down, the analyst recalled her telling the group.

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