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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.
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Title Annotation:ROUND UP: Research
Publication:Reproductive Health Matters
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2008
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