Theories about an alleged banned word list at the CDC are being bounced around this week after the Washington Post reported that the Trump administration is prohibiting the word “fetus” and other terms.
Centers for Disease Control leaders said they have not banned any words. Others have speculated that the list did not come from Trump administration officials at all.
According to the Washington Post, “fetus” is one of seven words or phrases on the alleged banned word list from the Trump administration. Officials at the CDC presented the list at a meeting Thursday about the 2018 budget, according to the report.
Here’s more from the report:
At the CDC, the meeting about the banned terms was led by Alison Kelly, a career civil servant who is a senior leader in the agency’s Office of Financial Services, according to the CDC analyst, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly. Kelly did not say why the words are being banned, according to the analyst, and told the group that she was merely relaying the information.
Other CDC officials confirmed the existence of a list of forbidden words. It’s likely that other parts of HHS are operating under the same guidelines regarding the use of these words, the analyst said. …
The ban is related to the budget and supporting materials that are to be given to the CDC’s partners and to Congress, the analyst said.
After the report broke Friday, CDC officials vehemently denied having a banned words list.
“The assertion that HHS has ‘banned words’ is a complete mischaracterization of discussions regarding the budget formulation process,” CDC Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald said. “HHS will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans.”
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Referring to a New York Times follow-up report on the situation, the liberal outlet Paste Magazine speculated that the Post’s assertions were wrong.
According to the report:
… the ban list is less government censorship and more scientists trying to coax science-averse Republicans into funding their proposals. That would mean the list is an internal strategy, designed to diplomatically navigate a conservative group which holds the reins to the funding the CDC needs. This jibes with WaPo’s claim that the CDC had suggested alternative words or phrases to use instead of the seven words.
But abortion activists quickly bashed pro-life advocates and politicians based on the Washington Post report.
“This move is reckless, and will put millions of lives in danger,” Planned Parenthood’s Dana Singiser told the Washington Examiner. “It is unimaginably dangerous to forbid the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from speaking about things essential to Americans’ health.”
Dame Magazine published an essay alleging that the banned word list is some sort of dystopian conservative Evangelical conspiracy by Trump and his administration to undermine scientific evidence and force their religious beliefs on America.
Language is important. Fetus is a medical term taken from the Latin (“offspring” or “young one”), but in modern America, abortion activists often use it to dehumanize unborn babies. Pro-life advocates tend to use the term unborn baby or preborn baby instead because it recognizes the unique, living human being growing in the womb. Nevertheless, it would be hard to imagine pro-life organizations supporting a ban on the word fetus in any setting.