Around this time last year, the Trump administration issued an order to officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to cease using a host of words in 2018 budget documents, the Washington Post reported.
Included in that list were "diversity," "fetus," "transgender," "vulnerable," "entitlement," "science-based" and "evidence-based."
Alternative word choices reportedly were presented in some cases. For instance, in lieu of "evidence-based" or "science-based," an analyst might say, "CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes," the source said. But those working on the Zika virus's effect on developing fetuses may be at a loss for appropriate -- or acceptable -- words.
The reaction in the room was "incredulous," the longtime CDC analyst told the Post. "It was very much, 'Are you serious? Are you kidding?'"
The Health and Human Services Department denied issuing a list of banned words and said reporting on the topic was a “mischaracterization” of what had transpired.
Health and Human Services spokesman Matt Lloyd disputed the report in a statement to CNN.
"The assertion that HHS has 'banned words' is a complete mischaracterization of discussions regarding the budget formulation process," Lloyd said. "HHS will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans. HHS also strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions."
But HHS’s response did not preclude others from weighing in on the matter:
Calling the order "reckless" and "unimaginably dangerous," Dana Singiser, vice president of public policy and government affairs for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, also weighed in.
"You cannot fight against the Zika virus, or improve women's and fetal health, if you are unable to use the word 'fetus.' You must be able to talk about science and evidence if you are to research cures for infectious diseases such as Ebola," Singiser said.
"You must be able to acknowledge the humanity of transgender people in order to address their health care needs. You cannot erase health inequities faced by people of color simply by forbidding the use of the words 'vulnerable' or 'diversity'."