Abortion is a dirty word

POPLINE is a free database of information on reproductive health. As with most databases, POPLINE has a list of stopwords that a search ignores. Usually, these are commonly occurring words like and and or. POPLINE has recently decided to make all abortion words stop words. This means that someone searching the POPLINE database for abortion or abortions or abort will not find any articles.

The decision is not publicized on the POPLINE web site (http://db.jhuccp.org/ics-wpd/popweb/). POPLINE is a project of the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. POPLINE is funded by USAID, “an independent federal government agency that receives overall foreign policy guidance from the Secretary of State”. USAID’s policies include a definite anti-abortion bias (see http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/global_health/pop/restrictions.html). The manager of POPLINE, in a response to a query from a librarian in the U.S., said tha, “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”.

As a librarian, I’m not sure I’d have the skills to find Fertility Control, Postconception. Lay users of the database wouldn’t stand a chance.


2 thoughts on “Abortion is a dirty word

  1. Pingback: Happy Birthday, Blog! | intellectual freedom committee - bcla

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