A report was released on Dec. 15, 2017, discussing the Trump Administration’s ban of the use of seven words in documents relating to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) budget. These words are: “science-based,” “evidence-based,” “entitlement,” “vulnerability,” “diversity,” “transgender,” and “fetus.” Alison Kelly, a board member of the CDC’s financial department, held a meeting to notify the department of the banned words but did not disclose why they were being banned; the Trump Administration claims that they implemented the ban in an attempt to ensure that the CDC’s budget would not be distributed in favor of any sub-group  Yet some have compared the censorship to the Reagan Administration’s prohibition of the U.S. Surgeon General from the using the acronym “AIDS,” and many are attributing this action to the increasingly authoritarian nature of the Trump administration.

For one, the decision to prohibit these seven words would put minorities and lower-class Americans at risk of losing quality healthcare treatments. Furthermore, according to CDC, banning the word “fetus” not only gives leverage to anti-abortion policies, but also endangers research on prenatal conditions and the effects of diseases such as the Zika virus. The healthcare of many Americans rely on the services and studies of the CDC, and it is only a matter of time before the censorship could affect the daily lives of Americans.

“Science-based”

“Evidence-based”

“Entitlement”

“Vulnerability”

“Diversity”

“Transgender”

“Fetus”

The stipulation against the use of these words also suggests that policy makers assume the health needs of Americans do not differ across demographics. For example, certain ethnic groups are more susceptible to certain diseases than others. Certain groups of West African descent, for example, are more prone to sickle-cell anemia due to the prevalence of malaria in their home countries. By eliminating the word “diversity,” race-specific research on these rarer diseases would possibly cease, potentially leaving entire ethnic groups unprotected. Furthermore, the ban would also prevent citizens of various backgrounds from getting the proper care they need, because diseases only prevalent in certain minorities will not be included in the CDC’s budget in an attempt to prevent “entitlement” towards certain groups. The ban also overlooks health complications specific to those who are transgender.

Even more alarming, it is irresponsible to expect a health agency to void the use of the phrase “evidence-based” from their agenda, as all modern medicine is based upon observable facts. Excluding science from the official language implies that data will be more influenced by politicians’ beliefs rather than conclusive research available to the public. Trump’s movement away from scientific explanation subjects Americans to the political authority of his administration.

It is possible that the Trump Administration’s CDC ban may further corrupt America’s already dysfunctional healthcare system and lead to the unnecessary ailments and deaths of many citizens. Such actions are reminiscent of those of a dictatorship, one that hides factually-based evidence from its citizenry while simultaneously replacing science with the biased agenda of a singular political platform. Not only does this damage the scientific community, but it also creates a significant amount of distrust between the public and their government.

Due to the restrictions on communicating scientific data, the CDC would have to report its studies “[based on] its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.” The suggestion that the CDC’s output may be just as influenced by lawmakers as it would be science is particularly troubling. Americans should be concerned that Republicans have overlooked the needs of citizens in order to promote their own party’s values.

It is still hazy what exactly the CDC’s motivations for prohibiting the seven words was. Some suggest it was enacted in order to increase funding for the department; more recently, a spokesman of the Department of Health and Human Services speaking to CNN categorized the word ban as a “complete mischaracterization” of the language used in the CDC documents. The CDC has since rejected the censorship reports and states that it “has not banned, prohibited, or forbidden” any of the above words.

Despite this, the ban appears to reflect a much larger agenda on the part of the current administration to increase Republican power. In a similar manner to the CDC, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pulled several American scientists from speaking at a meeting regarding climate change in Narragansett Bay. Eliminating scientific research in favor of political agendas dangerously limits American citizens’ knowledge and understanding of the world. The very fact that the Trump Administration would even attempt to use a national healthcare institution as a tool in their political game is abhorrent. Such actions jeopardize the welfare of the nation, and form a barrier between the government and American citizens.

Americans need to question the Trump Administration’s idea to ban these words in the interest of the welfare of the nation. This ban echoes supremacist behaviors, as among others it attempts to forget about the distinct needs of different ethnicities and to replace factual-based research with the words of the politicians in charge. The Washington Post includes a statement from the LGBTQ+ spokesman claiming that the ban is an effort to silence the voices of minorities, and erase their presence from the minds of Americans. Though the ban seems small scale, it would affect the lives of millions. Americans should not have to lose access to healthcare and scientific research as part of the Trump Administration’s ploy to gain greater authority.

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