The following statement can be attributed to Cynthia A. Pearson, Executive Director of the National Women’s Health Network.
Last week, it was widely reported that the Trump Administration is prohibiting officials and staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from using a list of seven commonly accepted public health words and phrases. New reports suggest that the ban may extend to the rest of the Department of Health and Human Services as well.
The reportedly banned terms include: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based.”
Words matter. Accurate honest words always matter. They are crucial in matters of science and health, and especially crucial when it comes to women's health. Whether those words are about contraception, pregnancy, sexuality, gender identity, cancer, diversity, evidence, and science women can't make good decisions about their health care without good information. Ultimately there is no way to get good information if certain words are banned.
Even if the Department’s intention now is just to protect critical funding from ideologues in Congress, banning words has a chilling effect on scientific integrity going forward. The government should not be in the business of censoring our nation’s top public health agency to advance a radical right wing agenda.
We must push back. The NWHN is committed to ensuring that women will always have access to the information they need to inform decisions about their health.
The National Women’s Health Network is supported by our members and by choice we do not accept financial support from drug companies or medical device manufacturers. We bring the voices, concerns, and needs of women consumers to policy and regulatory tables.
Cindy Pearson was the NWHN’s Executive Director from 1996 to 2021. One of the nation's leading advocates for women's health, Cindy often testified before Congress, NIH and the FDA and was frequently featured in the news as a consumer expert on women’s health issues. When she retired, Cindy received a Congressional Resolution in honor of her outstanding contributions to the health of women and girls.