Women’s rights groups, LGBTQ activists, scientists and other individuals decried the administration of US President Donald Trump, after reports emerged that officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been banned from using a list of words, including “transgender” and “fetus” in the agency’s official budget.
According to the Washington Post, CDC policy analysts were told at a meeting on Thursday with senior agency officials that seven words – “vulnerable”, “entitlement”, “diversity”, “transgender”, “fetus”, “evidence-based” and “science-based” – were banned from being used in documents related to next year’s budget.
The Post, quoting an unnamed analyst present at the meeting, said that in some cases the group was given alternative phrasing, such as, instead of using “science-based”, they could use “science in consideration with community standards and wishes”.
The CDC is the country’s health protection agency and works on a number of issues, from HIV/AIDS to maternal and infant health and fighting diseases.
The reported move has been slammed by advocates and health experts, who say it is a clear indication that the Trump administration “has disdained” science and women’s health since taking office.
Women’s health and rights group, Planned Parenthood, whose funding has been targeted by the Trump administration, said the news shows that “it’s clearer than ever: this administration has disdained women’s health, LGBTQ people and science since day one”.
It’s clearer than ever: this administration has disdained women’s health, LGBTQ people, and science since day one. https://t.co/KeyP0cy1mv
— Planned Parenthood (@PPact) December 16, 2017
Many called the decision “absurd” and pointed to how the majority of the prohibited words and phrases are based in science and not ideology, which they say the administration favours.
One Twitter user wrote: “Fetus is a medical term. It’s not a pro-choice term – it’s literal science. Banning the CDC from using it isn’t just absurd – it’s an attack on reproductive health and medicine.”
Fetus is a medical term. It’s not a pro-choice term – it’s literal science. Banning the CDC from using it isn’t just absurd – it’s an attack on reproductive health and medicine.
— Lauren Rankin (@laurenarankin) December 16, 2017
Public health research analyst Daniel Grossman added: “If you had any doubt about the administration’s proclivity for ideology over science, here it is. Public health cannot be advanced if @CDCgov’s work is not evidence-based.”
— Dr Daniel Grossman (@DrDGrossman) December 16, 2017
A number of scientists and health professionals on Twitter see the move as another indication of Trump’s attack on their profession.
Since Trump came to power, the administration has rolled back environmental protection policies, withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement and attempted to limit women’s access to contraception under the Affordable Care Act.
A study in October by the watchdog group, Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, found that the phrase “climate change” has been disappearing from the EPA website since Trump took office.
Responding to the news about the CDC ban, scientist Jess Pheonix tweeted that the Trump administration has “crossed a huge line”, adding that “science IS evidence-based, and the CDC shouldn’t be making recommendations based on ‘wishes’.”
The Trump admin has crossed a huge line. They are forbidding the @CDCgov from using the words “science-based” & “evidence-based.”
— Jess Phoenix (@jessphoenix2018) December 16, 2017
Congressman Ted Lieu called the decision “stupid”.
The @realDonaldTrump Administration is MAKING AMERICA STUPID AGAIN. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention banned from using “science-based” and “evidence-based” terms. Are we now going to use Voodoo & leeches to treat diseases? #MASA https://t.co/f77yrSbMFQ
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) December 16, 2017
The Post said that the senior CDC officials did not tell the analysts why the words were being banned, but the analysts said that guidelines were also more than likely in place for other departments, including Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC.
The newspaper quoted the analyst as saying that the reaction by those present in the meeting was “incredulous”.
“It was very much, ‘Are you serious? Are you kidding?’ ,” the analyst reportedly said.
The CDC did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment at the time of publication.