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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Director for the Centers for Disease Control is defending the agency, after a report that it has compiled a list of seven “dirty words” that should not be used when asking Congress for money.

The seven words that sparked outrage, are vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based and science-based.

CBS News has learned that budget analysts at the CDC were told to consider avoiding those words in order to get the broadest congressional support for funding.

That advice came from the Department of Health and Human Services or HHS.

While the CDC issued a statement saying there was no explicit order to ban words, some critics worry this sends the wrong message – one that censors research and science.

A federal official said this was simply guidance provided to people who write budget proposals and was not out of the ordinary.

“I have to say, from my experience, this is very much out of the ordinary,” said Kathlene Sebelius who was the head of HHS from 2009 to 2014.

She had a conversation with CBS Medical Correspondent Doctor John Lapook about the controversy.

“I don’t know how you talk about maternal and child health without using the word ‘fetus,’ said Sebelius.

As for what message it sends to the CDC, Sebelius said, “I hope it doesn’t send some of the very competent, talented people out the door.  I think it’s a very troubling message, not just to the CDC, but to the American public, about public health.

A spokesman for HHS says the Washington Post report was “a mischaracterization of discussions regarding the budget formulation process.”

Both the CDC and HHS declined CBS’s requests for an interview.


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