Popline database censorship: searches using keyword "abortion" blocked.
The world's largest database on reproductive health, Popline,
blocked searches using the term "abortion" from late February
until 4 April 2008. Popline, maintained by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg
School of Public Health, restored the search function after school
officials found out about the block. A medical librarian discovered the
block and contacted Popline, who informed her that abortion had been
turned into a so-called "stop word" that is ignored by search
engines, and that she could use words like "fertility control,
post-conception" or "unwanted pregnancy" instead.
However, in fact, nearly 25,000 search results were being concealed.
Popline is funded by the US Agency for International Development
(USAID), which is still ruled by the Global Gag Rule. An inquiry into
the block found that the restriction was triggered by seven articles
from an issue of A, the Abortion Magazine, which is published by Ipas
and focused on abortion as a human rights issue and profiled abortion
rights advocates around the world. USAID "had problems" with
these materials and made inquiries to Popline. Afterward, the Popline
administration made the decision to restrict "abortion" as a
search term across the board. USAID says it did not ask Popline to
restrict searches. The Dean of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
said the block was an "overreaction". (1)
(1.) Wilson B. Magazine Led to Database's "Abortion'
Search Block. National Public Radio (US) News. 9 April 2008.