breaking news

Officer in Breaion King arrest facing discipline over new force case

Commentary: The CDC can’t use 7 terms on paper. Here’s what to expect


Just when I think the Trump administration can no longer surprise me, they go and do it. But the latest stunt is more a shock than a surprise.

Senior budget officials of the esteemed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were called to a meeting last Thursday and read a list of forbidden words and phrases — including the term “science-based” — that the Trump administration does not want to see in the agency’s official budget documents to circulate within Congress and the federal government in preparation for the upcoming presidential budget proposal.

The banned words and phrases are “fetus,” “transgender,” “science-based,” “diversity,” “evidence-based,” “entitlement” and “vulnerable.” This to the home of many of the world’s leading epidemiologists and researchers whose job it is to provide for the defense of the nation against health threats and promote the public health.

HOW WE GOT HERE: CDC given list of ‘forbidden’ words for budget.

Can you imagine the atmosphere in the room? I’m envisioning a stunned silence. It’s a good thing they were sitting down.

The officials were given alternate phrases, such as turning “science-based” or “evidence-based” into the clunky “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes” — an outright admission of contempt of science, and the triumph of politics and ideology over science. Why not use the more streamlined, “science-and politics-based” or maybe “evidence- and ideology-based?”

When I worked neonatal intense care, we gave immunizations based on recommendations published by the CDC. In 1980, when I started until the year 2000, I don’t recall a single baby whose parents refused to sign the consent. But when I retired in 2012, reasoning with a new wave of empowered, educated parents to vaccinate their babies had become the hardest part of my job. Using logic from the Trump administration, maybe the CDC should no longer recommend immunizations based “on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.” Right? Wrong.

In health care, you can do things because you’ve always done them that way — or, you can do things based on scientific research. The latter is what we do in neonatal intensive care — and what the best hospitals do in all areas. It’s called evidence-based practice. In practice, we look to the CDC for published guidelines on immunizations, infection control and for all manner of health statistics and research data.

COMMENTARY: Why Obamacare will die without the individual mandate.

Last year, I went to the emergency room after being bitten by a dog with nystagmus, a condition in which the eyes make involuntary, repetitive movements. The first thing the doctor did was go to her computer to look up rabies statistics from the CDC. Only then did she give me her recommendation regarding shots.

The CDC funds Texas’ basic health functions, such as the control and prevention of HIV, sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis. It supports state laboratories for development of new techniques. It funds disease surveillance — especially when you need to know in a hurry where the infections are popping up.

Remember the case of Ebola in Dallas in 2014? Officials from the CDC were dispatched to help with training and surveillance. Remember the outbreak of Zika virus in Brazil in 2015 that caused children to be born with microcephaly? Hundreds of cases were reported in South Texas, but so far this year there’s only 45 cases. The CDC funds the Zika Pregnancy Registry and the Texas Birth Defect Registry.

If the administration is saying to the CDC that they can’t use the words “transgender” and “diversity” in their budget request, you can bet that means “don’t pay attention to those issues.”

This blatant contempt for science must not stand. We need the CDC to sustain and continue to build its vast repository of science information and its culture of excellence. Politics has no place there.

Inglis is a retired editor and neonatal intensive care nurse in Austin.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: Viewpoints delivers the latest perspectives on current events.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

TWO VIEWS: Democracy? Bag it, say the Republicans
TWO VIEWS: Democracy? Bag it, say the Republicans

The urgent love Texas Republicans feel for plastic bags is a mystery. Let’s look, though. Maybe there’s a clue in the trail left by former Texas congressman Tom Loeffler all the way back in the 1980s. The game is afoot — literally. As a candidate for governor back in 1986, Loeffler confessed that he had worn plastic shower caps on...
Letters to the editor: Jan. 22, 2018

Re: Jan. 18 article, “Expo Center trimmed from PSV’s list of Austin MLS stadium sites.” The possibility of Butler Shores being decimated for a soccer stadium worries me. I am absolutely against such a move. These negotiations appear to be similar to the bullying of Austin that Uber and Lyft attempted. Butler Shores, at the confluence...
TWO VIEWS: Why Supreme Court should rule against bag ban
TWO VIEWS: Why Supreme Court should rule against bag ban

Shoppers might soon discover that the grocery store is less expensive and more convenient. Two weeks ago, the Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case questioning the legitimacy of municipal bans on plastic bags. If justices reaffirm an appellate court ruling, consumers will be unburdened from this clear example of government overreach. At...
Opinion: What is the real message of #MeToo?

The feminist website Babe published an account of a date gone bad. The pushback has been swift and sharp. I share some of the concerns of the critics, but I also think young women are sending a message that is being missed. The account by the anonymous “Grace” about a bad date with comedian Aziz Ansari was, if not “3,000 words of...
Lacking minorities, state boards are ill-prepared to serve all Texans
Lacking minorities, state boards are ill-prepared to serve all Texans

Gov. Greg Abbott should look at fairness, justice and best practices — along with qualifications — in making appointments to state boards and commissions. Given his record, that clearly is not happening. If those measures were used, Abbott’s appointments would better reflect the ethnic, racial and gender diversity of Texas. They don&rsquo...
More Stories