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Statement from Louis W. Sullivan, MD regarding the limitations on word usage at the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention

As a former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I am deeply troubled by recent news reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been advised not to use certain words in official budget documents. These words are “diversity,” “vulnerable,” “science-based,” “evidence-based,” “transgender,” and “fetus”.

Over the course of my career as a physician, teacher, medical researcher and cabinet secretary, I have often stated with pride that the scientific enterprise in the United States is successful because it enjoys strong support from a broad array of public and private sources.

Any effort to censor our scientific programs or direct them for political purposes would be disastrous, and is counter to the noble aspirations for truth, honesty, and integrity which have underpinned our scientific efforts.

I join with the presidents of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine in their statement of December 18, 2017, expressing deep concerns about these reports of efforts to control the language used by our health and science agencies.

Louis W. Sullivan, MD
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, 1989-93
Chairman, The Sullivan Alliance to Transform the Health Professions

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About The Sullivan Alliance:
The Sullivan Alliance to Transform the Health Professions is a national non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the numbers of health professionals from diverse racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds available to the nation’s health workforce. The Alliance is especially committed to increasing the availability of health care professionals in minority communities and in rural and inner city Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs).