The new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reached out to alarmed agency staff over the weekend to tamp down fears incited by a report that the Trump administration has banned the CDC from using words like “fetus,” “evidence-based,” and “diversity” in its budget submissions.

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, who has led the agency since July, sent an all-hands email to the agency’s staff assuring them that the CDC is committed to its mission as a science- and evidence-based institution. She later posted it on Twitter.

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT Plus and enjoy your first 30 days free!

GET STARTED

What is it?

STAT Plus is STAT's premium subscription service for in-depth biotech, pharma, policy, and life science coverage and analysis. Our award-winning team covers news on Wall Street, policy developments in Washington, early science breakthroughs and clinical trial results, and health care disruption in Silicon Valley and beyond.

What's included?

  • Daily reporting and analysis
  • The most comprehensive industry coverage from a powerhouse team of reporters
  • Subscriber-only newsletters
  • Daily newsletters to brief you on the most important industry news of the day
  • Online intelligence briefings
  • Frequent opportunities to engage with veteran beat reporters and industry experts
  • Exclusive industry events
  • Premium access to subscriber-only networking events around the country
  • The best reporters in the industry
  • The most trusted and well-connected newsroom in the health care industry
  • And much more
  • Exclusive interviews with industry leaders, profiles, and premium tools, like our CRISPR Trackr.

Leave a Comment

Please enter your name.
Please enter a comment.

  • The “alternative” language, like trump’s alternative facts, are at least as frightening as the planned censorship itself.

    “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.’’

    Over generations, we have seen FAR too many instances when “community standards” and “community wishes” has meant consideration of the standards and wishes of the most retrograde and/or most financially affected members of the community.” Which part of the community/communities are CDC, NIH, etc. supposed to listen to? There are still powerful people opposed to other people practicing birth control other than abstinence or the rhythm method, opposed to pollution control measures, opposed even to consideration of gun-related casualties.

  • Unlikely on several counts. First of all CDC is not in DC – it is in Atlanta. Second, as I have remarked, CDC has been showing signs of being willing to let opinion trump data since long before Trump tried to trump facts. Thus third, I am not holding my breath in anticipation of any confrontation. Why do you think he did not ask Frances Collins to issue the same edict at NIH? There he would have faced a general strike.

  • Welp , I see a “Range war looming along the Key Bridge and over to “K” Street now . Too bad I’m not living in Dee cee to see the blood bath first hand .

    It’s the Evangelicals vs the People’s republic of the CDC this afternoon folks . All eyes will be o the King, Donald Trump as he tweets out messages to his Frozen chosen followers . It’s gong to be a real Duzy of a ball game folks , now a word from our sponsor this hour ……

  • I found the most telling and chilling thing that in this “guidance” the CDC
    is this truly outrageous and indefensible “guidance.” From the Boston Globe:

    In some instances, the analysts were given alternative phrases. Instead of ‘‘science-based’’ or ‘‘evidence-based,’’ the suggested phrase is ‘‘CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.’’

    That is truly frightening. If the community doesn’t wish to discuss anything about sexuality then the CDC will not use its science to address such issues as HIV, teen pregnancy, LGBTQ concerns, etc., etc. If the particular community finds drug addiction distasteful then the CDC will just ignore those issues? WHAT THE HELL??
    Forgive me but I’m now pretty mad, as well any rational person ought to be.

  • CDC has proven itself to be unable to study the most vulnerable populations – for example, they are unable to study fetal deaths (aka “spontaneous abortions”, and, as they blithely refer to them “non-live births” associated with Tdap vaccination during pregnancy. Since they have proven they can’t do it, someone who can should. Like NIMH, perhaps. See more details on these facts here: https://jameslyonsweiler.com/2017/12/18/why-its-not-insane-to-restrict-cdc-funding-based-on-words/

  • Budget submission blueprint:
    ….. blah blah GOD blah blah LORD blah blah PRO-LIFE blah blah ……

    100% success guaranteed, or you will get back your soul!

  • Helen Branswell, Thank you for writing a decent article.

    Lena Sun at WP and CNN–at it again… Come on! Doesn’t democracy die in the dark, right? Twisted propaganda isn’t what this country needs right now!

  • “Instead, he said, agency budget analysts were told that some words and phrasing might be more likely to win support for the CDC’s budget in the current Congress.”

    That is just what we need – a public health watchdog becoming increasingly politically sensitive. To paraphrase: We did not tell staff not to use those words, we just pointed out that if they do, it will likely cost them their livelihood.

    Frankly, CDC has edged so far away from science to popular politics that defunding them increasingly makes sense. The past several years they have been churning out opinionated junk science and alarmist public warnings and assertions of fact based on flimsy studies with findings inconsistent with other published literature.

    • I found the most telling and chilling thing that in this “guidance” the CDC
      is this truly outrageous and indefensible “guidance.” From the Boston Globe:

      In some instances, the analysts were given alternative phrases. Instead of ‘‘science-based’’ or ‘‘evidence-based,’’ the suggested phrase is ‘‘CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.’’

      That is truly frightening. If the community doesn’t wish to discuss anything about sexuality then the CDC will not use its science to address such issues as HIV, teen pregnancy, LGBTQ concerns, etc., etc. If the particular community finds drug addiction distasteful then the CDC will just ignore those issues? WHAT THE HELL??
      Forgive me but I’m now pretty mad, as well any rational person ought to be.

  • Can you get the person who described the “suggestions if you will” to describe the suggestion for transgender? I’m still not clear on what the suggested replacement is for that. I am very curious about what the “different ways to say things without necessarily compromising or changing the true essence of what’s being said” is for transgender. And why.

    • Here are two technical descriptions that get you in the intersex/transgender arena without using “trans” in a sentence:

      – People with gender-related genomic abnormalities
      – People suffering from genotype-phenotype inconsistencies.

A roundup of STAT’s top stories of the day in science and medicine

Privacy Policy