Science, Medical Groups Criticize "Banned Words" in Federal Budget Documents

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The director of the CDC, Brenda Fitzgerald, vociferously denied the characterization of the words as "banned", saying in a statement "there are no banned, prohibited or forbidden words at the CDC-period". Or, for that matter, why the agency should purposefully avoid describing pregnant women as being more vulnerable to complications due to Zika or other diseases.

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, shown here at the Capitol in September, has joined other Democratic senators in objecting to the Trump administration's reported direction to some agencies to not use certain words and phrases in budget documents. "HHS also strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions".

"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. "On its website, the CDC promises in a "Pledge to the American People" to 'base all public health decisions on the highest quality scientific data that is derived openly and objectively" and to 'treat all persons with dignity, honesty, and respect'". He said two CDC employees told him agency workers have been told not to use the term "health equity" in presentations or public talks. However, she did not dispute the media reports.

As individuals and groups continue to weigh in today, three infectious disease organizations issued a joint statement that said they were deeply concerned about reports that budget documents submitted to Congress by the CDC may be censored for certain terms.

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The Post did not identify its source but said, "Other CDC officials confirmed the existence of a list of forbidden words".

Second, these three terms to avoid apparently came up in the course of a meeting among career officials at the CDC late last week about preparing next year's congressional-justification documents.

The groups are the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS). Another senior budget official told the group that "evidence-based" and "science-based" had been used so often in budget documents that their meaning had been diluted.

"While HHS received 10,729 comments on its proposal", noted Politico, "the agency has only posted 80 comments - less than 1 percent of all submissions - that overwhelmingly back the administration's anti-abortion policies or attack regulations advanced by the Obama administration, such as a rule forcing health care providers that accept federal funding to provide services to transgender patients". For example, they said transgender people have multiple health challenges that affect not only their personal health, but also those of the wider community. "Banning the use of words like transgender, science-based, and diversity will only harm the public health as the CDC carries out its important mission". "While community concerns should be acknowledged, they should not override compelling scientific findings".

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