“Banned” words at the CDC cause massive backlash among officials and citizens

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 Center for Disease Control and
Prevention | Photo courtesy of the CDC

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.

Banned” words projected on to Trump Hotel as a
form of protest | Photo courtesy of Common Dreams

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.

Written by Anna Ensberg

Anna is a freshman and a Staff Writer for the MC Sun. Her hobbies include dancing ballet, reading, eating, and sleeping. She would like to thank her friends and family for being supportive.

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