Banning words is not far from burning books

Toni Houston
December 21, 2017

On Friday, The Washington Post reported that CDC officials last week flagged seven words and phrases-diversity, entitlement, evidence-based, fetus, science-based, transgender, and vulnerable-that should not be used in connection with the budget document, due out in early February 2018. The words are "transgender", "vulnerable", "fetus", "evidence-based", "diversity", "entitlement" and "science-based". "It was interpreted as 'You are not to use these words in the budget narrative, '" said one person who received a briefing last week. At HHS alone, the administration has removed, from at least two federal health surveys, questions that would identify data specific to LGBT people.

The Atlanta-based CDC is in charge of responding to infectious disease outbreaks, like Ebola and Zika, and tracking a wide range of chronic diseases and other health problems. "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. Here's a word that's still allowed: ridiculous". "It was never intended as overall guidance for how we describe and conduct CDC's work". They're saying not to use it in your request for money because it will hurt you.

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

"The assertion that HHS has "banned words" is a complete mischaracterization of discussions regarding the budget formulation process", HHS spokesman Matt Lloyd told The Hill on Saturday.

"In conjunction with the enormous light display, HRC has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for any and all records, including communications with the CDC, relating to the banned words from November 2016 onward. HHS also strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions", the statement continued.

Another HHS official who was not present for the conversation gave a different account of the CDC meeting. The White House and some Republican lawmakers have proposed dramatic reductions to the agency's $7 billion discretionary budget.

"The health, science, and justice communities are organizing together to demonstrate that federal funding for health and science matters. I have a deep sympathy for the predicament that they are in", Dr. Galea said.

The idea is that favorable word choice could help ease the budget's passage through Congress.

"We must ensure that the actions of our federal agencies-particularly those so important for maintaining the health and safety of our citizens-adhere to the highest standards of research and scientific integrity", the senators wrote.

There's no written directive about not using the term; it's only been communicated verbally, said the medical leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to jeopardize a working relationship with CDC officials. In other cases, no replacement words were immediately offered.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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