CDC rejects censorship reports: ‘There are absolutely no “banned” words’

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it “has not banned, prohibited, or forbidden” the use of certain words in official documentation, the agency director says in response to concerns from Senate Democrats.

Democrats had been concerned, they said last month, “that the Trump Administration is yet again prioritizing ideology over science” after reports claimed agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had banned employees from using words including “fetus,” “vulnerable” and “science-based.”

CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald told Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) in a letter released Tuesday the HHS style guide does recommend avoiding the use of “vulnerable,” “diversity,” and “entitlement.” Fitzgerald added that CDC recommends substituting the colloquial “ObamaCare” for “Affordable Care Act” or “ACA.”


She said, “There are absolutely no ‘banned’ words. These are merely suggestions of what terms to use and what often overused words should be avoided.”

Last month, The Washington Post reported that senior CDC officials in charge of the budget told the agency’s policy analysts of a list of words they shouldn’t use in documents they are preparing for next year’s budget, including “transgender” and “evidence-based.”

Fitzgerald said the reports “mischaracterized staff discussions regarding the annual budget formulation process.”

But Schatz and other Senate Democrats said even the suggestion to avoid certain words sends a politically charged message.

“This is Orwellian anti-science partisanship that has no place in a government agency,” Schatz said in a statement. “HHS and the CDC have an obligation to carry out the law and protect public health. They should not be engaging in partisan politics that undermine scientific progress and public faith in our government.”

Tags Brian Schatz CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention HHS United States Department of Health and Human Services

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