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Trump's CDC word ban: fact or fiction?

Ben Schmitt
| Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, 11:12 a.m.
The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ civil rights organization, projected seven words that were allegedly banned from some CDC documents onto the facade of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
Human Rights Campaign Twitter
The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ civil rights organization, projected seven words that were allegedly banned from some CDC documents onto the facade of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

Is science being silenced?

A week after the Washington Post reported that the Trump administration banned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using words like "transgender" and "diversity," news outlets and politicians are trying to sort out whether this truly occurred.

The seven words and phrases the department reportedly is discouraged from using are "vulnerable," "entitlement," "diversity," "transgender," "fetus," "evidence-based" and "science-based."

Senate Health Committee Democrats on Wednesday released a letter asking Alex Azar, the Trump administration's nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, how he would handle a prohibition on the use of certain words at the CDC.

"We are incredibly concerned by this unconscionable restriction on agency communications and the message this sends regarding the critical health and scientific work of the department," the letter said.

The senators requested a written response to their questions by Jan. 8.

"Such an agenda, especially if motivated by political factors, threatens to undermine the tremendous scientific progress at the CDC and the public's faith in government, more broadly," the letter signed by the senators said. "If true, this guidance is not just a mere change to vocabulary, it is a fundamental shift of direction and a reflection of flawed ideology."

CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald said in a series of tweets that: "There are no banned words at the CDC."

The Human Rights Campaign, working with artist Robin Bell , projected words like "fetus" and "transgender" onto the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday night, in protest of the possible banned words.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991, bschmitt@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Bencschmitt.

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