“Can he do that…?” I asked myself as I read the news on my feed today. Sadly, as it turns out, he can. Don’t worry you are not alone- health leaders say they are alarmed about this report referring to officials at the nation’s top public health agencies.
The reports clearly demand not to use certain words or phrases in official budget documents by the Trump Administration. Speaking to old policy analysts for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, orders state that they could not use certain words in documents if they wanted to keep their budget.
Those words were “fetus,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “vulnerable,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”
Obviously the more common factors among these words are their relationship to a variety of science-based issues, including climate change and abortion rights. All things Trump doesn’t believe in.
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.
The CDC does research that involves LGBTQ people, fetuses, and health disparities among racial, ethnic, socioeconomic and geographic groups, so the administration’s decision to prohibit the use of these words may not please CDC officials.
The budget should be released in February, and in supporting materials for Congress and CDC partners. A “longtime CDC analyst” who spoke to the Post said that they did not remember a time when an administration previous banned “controversial” words from budget documents. The analyst said it’s probable that other areas of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have had the same directive.
The ban echoes earlier attempts by the Trump administration to stifle scientific fact by changing the words “climate change” and “climate change adaptation” to “weather extremes” and “resilience to weather extremes” in documents used by the Department of Agriculture.
A spokesman at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees CDC, said in a statement that it’s a mischaracterization to say the CDC was banned from using certain words. But HHS officials did not clarify or answer any other questions.
Unlike the attempts to censor the Department of Agriculture, this ban does not come with alternatives for all of the prohibited words.
“Here’s a word that’s still allowed: ‘ridiculous,'” said Rush Holt, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in a statement reacting to the report.
The CDC official who spoke to The Associated Press said the feedback to reconsider budget language came from “higher-ups” in the federal government, and not from anyone at the CDC.
According to the Washington Post, the CDC analyst they interviewed said the reaction of people in the meeting was “incredulous.” The analyst told the Post, “It was very much, ‘Are you serious? Are you kidding?’ ”
The announcement comes just moments after a federal judge’s order blocking the Trump administration’s attempt to prevent birth control access. On Friday, Dec. 15, U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s rule allowing employers to rollback coverage of contraception due to religious or moral reasons.