Officials at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were allegedly given a list of banned words during a Department of Human Health and Services (HHS) briefing on Thursday, Dec. 14. The list included words such as: “diversity,” “fetus,” “transgender,” “science-based,” “evidence-based,” “entitlement,” and “vulnerable.”
2018 budgeting documents are the proposed subjects of the ban. The list was met with backlash from the public as well as government officials. CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald herself responded to the allegation of banned words in a post on Facebook:
“I want to assure you there are no banned words at CDC. We will continue to talk about all our important public health programs,” Fitzgerald 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 proposed list of banned words also affects other government departments. Officials from some of these departments have also spoken out against the decision. These officials included Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, and Dana Singiser, Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
“You cannot fight against the Zika virus, or improve women’s and fetal health, if you are unable to use the word ‘fetus.’ You must be able to talk about science and evidence if you are to research cures for infectious diseases such as Ebola,” Singiser said.
The HHS, which runs the CDC, calls the ban a “complete mischaracterization” of discussions about the 2018 budget. They deny the existence of a banned words list.
“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,” HHS Spokesman Matt Lloyd said.
To protest the alleged ban, the Human Rights Campaign worked with artist Robin Bell to project some of the banned words onto the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. They did this in order to draw more attention to the issue from the Trump administration and the American public.
While it is not clear whether the Trump administration or the HHS initiated the list of banned words, many officials and citizens alike have had an adverse reaction to the ban.