Censorship and the CDC: A Statement from the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA)

By American Medical Writers Association posted 12-28-2017 17:42


The American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) is deeply concerned about the controversy surrounding an article that appeared on Friday, December 15, in The Washington Post, “CDC gets list of forbidden words: fetus, transgender, diversity.”

Although the CDC has not yet released its own statement, many national health organizations have issued strong statements in response to The Washington Post article, including the American Medical Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Center for Plain Language, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, the HIV Medicine Association, the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America. In addition, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) have published their perspectives on the matter.

Like these prestigious societies and journals, AMWA believes that censorship of our nation’s leading public health organization would be horrific. But after conducting diligent research with an objective approach, we found conflicting accounts of what was actually said, by whom, at the meeting. These conflicting reports succeed only in stirring a pot of emotions in America that is already at a slow boil.

AMWA supports evidence- and science-based medicine; the use of clear language to accurately communicate science and medicine to all stakeholders—consumers, health care professionals, regulators, and government officials alike; and the use of objectivity and diligent research in pursuit of accurate and unbiased reporting. Perhaps most important, regardless of the setting in which the list of the seven reportedly banned words was created, medical communication is best served by the use of precisely defined terms that exist within the established literature and that are used by the vast majority of scientists.