Fetus, transgender, vulnerable... America's top health agency banned from using these words
The paper reported that at least seven words and phrases — diversity, entitlement, fetus, transgender, vulnerable, evidence-based and science-based — were prohibited
The Donald Trump administration has reportedly banned the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), America's top public health agency, from using words or phrases such as "fetus," "transgender" and "science-based" in official budget documents, according to reports. The news has left health leaders across the country worried.
The story was reported by the Washington Post late on Friday, where the news outlet cited an anonymous source saying that the ban was imposed during a recent meeting of senior budget officials at the US CDC.
The paper reported that at least seven words and phrases — diversity, entitlement, fetus, transgender, vulnerable, evidence-based and science-based — were prohibited from being used in documents which are circulated within the federal government and Congress. Reports state that the documents pertained to the ones made in preparation for the next presidential budget.
A CDC official confirmed the reports on Saturday and stated on conditions of anonymity that the officials of the national health agency were given "feedback" from higher ranks of the federal government at a recent meeting about the usage of certain language in draft budget documents.
The CCD official, however, added that she did not know if there was a particular prohibition on the usage of specific words in the budget documents.
A US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spokesperson, in a statement, said that saying that the CDC was banned from using certain words was a mischaracterization.
Removing protections for trans students, a proposed trans military ban, and now prohibiting the CDC from using the word “transgender.” We see this for what it is, a dangerous pattern, and a hateful targeted erasure of trans people- and as Americans we will not stand for it. https://t.co/HOxxX8QGNL— Sarah Kate Ellis (@sarahkateellis) December 16, 2017
The CDC director Dr Brenda Fitzgerald sent an email to the employees of the agency on Saturday night, mentioning the media report and said: "I want to assure you that CDC remains committed to our public health mission as a science- and evidence-based institution. As part of our commitment to provide for the common defense of the country against health threats, science is and will remain the foundation of our work."
The top health agency of the country, CDC, is responsible for keeping a track of and responding to infectious disease outbreak like Zika and Ebola. The health organization also pursues an array of chronic diseases and other health issues.
The report that the agency may be banned from using certain words and phrases has drawn concern and anger from various experts of science and public health.
Reacting to the report Rush Holt, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in a statement said: "Here’s a word that’s still allowed: ‘ridiculous'."
While, Dr Sandro Galea, dean of Boston University’s School of Public Health, said: “The words that we use ultimately describe what we care about and what we think are priorities. If you are saying you cannot use words like ‘transgender’ and ‘diversity’, it’s a clear statement that you cannot pay attention to these issues.”
“Everybody in the public health community recognizes that there is a slowly growing timidity by colleagues whose budgets are dependent on the federal government. I have a deep sympathy for the predicament that they are in," Galea said of the CDC officials.
Frightening. No separation of church and state. A word ban. I’m the United States. https://t.co/acPfPStAmo— Jason Hirschhorn (@JasonHirschhorn) December 17, 2017
The CDC official said that no one from the health agency was involved in taking the decision to ban the words, and that the decision came from "higher-ups" in the federal government. She also added that while she was informed of the meeting, she had not attended it and did not know the details, including the names of the officials who made the suggestion to reconsider the language.
President Trump, on many occasions, has suggested that he does not believe in climate change, which was reflected in his move to withdraw the United States from the historical Paris Climate Accord, meant to lower greenhouse gases. A few months ago, Trump had also banned the enlisting of transgender members into the US military.
The HHS, earlier this year, had also proposed to delete a sexuality-oriented question from a federal data-collecting survey. The question was reinstated in the survey after protests from the LGBTQ community advocates.
HHS spokesman Matt Lloyd, responding to the words ban report, said: “The assertion that HHS has ‘banned words’ is a complete mischaracterization of discussions regarding the budget formulation process.
“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.”
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