The Washington Post reports that the Trump Administration has prohibited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using seven words in official documents used for next year’s budget.
The agency was informed of the prohibition at a meeting on Thursday by those who oversee its budget. The forbidden words are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.” The Post says that policy analysts were provided with some alternatives to use: instead of “science-based” or “evidence-based,” the suggested wording was “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.” In some cases, the agency was not provided with alternative wording.
The prohibition of the seven words from official documentation comes as the government begins work on the next year’s budget, in which individual agencies will submit proposals to the Office of Management and Budget, which in turn goes into the proposed national budget. A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services told the Post that the CDC “will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans.” A representative from the CDC’s Office of Financial Services explained that in some cases, budget drafts with the words were being returned to the agency for correction.
The constraints could limit the agency from effectively communicating its priorities to lawmakers for the coming year: prohibiting the word “fetus,” for example, would complicate the agency’s efforts when it comes to researching something such as the Zika virus, which can cause neurological problems in an unborn child. This appears to be part of a trend this year, as various government agencies have scrubbed certain words form their websites, such as “Climate Change” and “Global Warming,” while under the Trump Administration.
We’ve reached out to the CDC for comment, and will update this post if we hear back.