did you say abortion? don't you mean Fertility Control, Postconception?

I read about this in my spouse, Jenna's blog and it is so offensive I have to rant here... Abortion is now a stopword in the POPLINE database...

There is a federally funded database, POPLINE, that is run by the folks at Johns Hopkins. POPLINE bills itself as "the world's largest bibliographic database on population, family planning, and related health issues."

However, you'll have a hard time finding abortion information there anymore.

Jenna suggests the following:
1. Go to POPLINE's search interface
2. Type the word "abortion" (sans quotes) in the Subject box
3. Click Search
4. Wish that you'd been wearing a hat so that after your head exploded you'd been able to find all the pieces.
5. If you're still able to communicate coherently, call or write the bastards at Johns Hopkins carrying out the government's war on information. Or take some other kind of direct action if that's your thing.

This is really amazing. The folks that run the system have intentionally set the search interface to ignore the word abortion, just like it would ignore words like 'and', 'or', 'the' or other words that are considered insignificant to the search results.

The chilling effect of the Bush administration's anti-choice agenda has extended so far that the folks that run POPLINE have, on their own, without direction from the gov't, decided that since they get federal funding they should eliminate the ability to search the worlds largest database on reproductive health for the word 'abortion.'

According to this blog post Debra L. Dickson from POPLINE explained it this way "Yes we did make a change in POPLINE. We recently made all abortion terms stop words. As a federally funded project, we decided this was best for now. In addition to the terms you’re already using, you could try using ‘Fertility Control, Postconception’. This is the broader term to our ‘Abortion’ terms and most records have both in the keyword fields. Also, adding ‘unwanted w2 pregnancy’ in place of aborti*. We have a keyword Pregnancy, Unwanted and there are 2517 records with aborti* & unwanted w2 pregnancy."

So I guess the newspeak slogan is Free Postconception Fertility Control On Demand! what an insane world we live in.

power to the bloggers!

A couple of days of people spreading the story and sending in complaints seems to have succeeded in changing the policy at POPLINE!


April 4, 2008

Statement Regarding POPLINE Database

I was informed this morning that the word "abortion" was blocked as a search term in the POPLINE family planning database administered by the Bloomberg School’s Center for Communication Programs. POPLINE provides evidence-based information on reproductive health and family planning and is the world’s largest database on these issues.

USAID, which funds POPLINE, found two items in the database related to abortion that did not fit POPLINE criteria. The agency then made an inquiry to POPLINE administrators. Following this inquiry, the POPLINE administrators at the Center for Communication Programs made the decision to restrict abortion as a search term.

I could not disagree more strongly with this decision, and I have directed that the POPLINE administrators restore "abortion" as a search term immediately. I will also launch an inquiry to determine why this change occurred.

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge and not its restriction.


Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH
Dean, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health