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Goverment Funded Health Website Blocks Abortion Information

Government-Funded Health Website Blocks Abortion Info

A US government-funded medical information site that calls itself as the world's largest database on reproductive health has secretly begun to block searches on the word "abortion," hiding the nearly 25,000 search results available. People heading to the site looking for information would be hit with this exchange:

Search: Abortion
Answer: No records found by latest query.

The site is run by Johns Hopkins University and funded by USAID, a federal office that provides health-care funding to developing nations. In 2001 President Bush revived a Reagan-era policy that denies funding to nongovernmental organizations that perform abortions or "actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations."

Info seekers can learn all about "Anti-Tuberculosis Therapy-Induced Hepatotoxicity among Ethiopian HIV-Positive and Negative Patients," with a quick click, but will have to preform complicated search engine gymnastics to try to access the abortion information (Try entering terms like: Fertility Control, Postconception.) To see the reason behind the censorship,


The manager of the database said of the change,

We recently made all abortion terms stop words. As a federally funded project, we decided this was best for now.

No warning of the change was noted on the site.

Abortion is a controversial issue, but this censorship of 25,000 documents seals off all information, both pro and con. Does it surprise you that a procedure can be considered legal by the government and at the same time starved for funding and information? Is this a step closer to a slippery slope of an abortion ban? Do you hope so?


Join The Conversation
Alexbob Alexbob 8 years
This is one of the good sites I see so far.... I ever see this type of sites.... Keep rocking with new features.... Thanks, __________________ Alex45 Drug Intervention Ohio
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
The term abortion was blocked on the search engine.
DCStar DCStar 9 years
I'm confused. Were the links and articles actually censored? Or do you just have to use terms other than "abortion" to find them?
remedios remedios 9 years
UnDave35 - see baltimaregal's update. It looks like Johns Hopkins was unaware and requested that it be fixed. And it apparently was.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I just went to that website. When I typed adoption, I was able to gain access to: abortion: abortion habitual: abortion law: adortion rate: abortion spontaneous: It's there. You just have to know how to find it
robit robit 9 years
It isn't a government search engine - it's from a university that may receive federal funding, but it's still not directly government owned. I frankly don't know what's more terrifying - the government blocking information on a legal medical procedure or a university, which is supposed to be a place of higher learning blocking the same information. Also, a lot of peer-reviewed studies found on sites similar to POPLINE can only be found through databases that aren't open to the public (that is, you have to pay to access the databases or be a member of a group that pays for access to them, ie, a university). It's not like you can simply get some of this research by googling it.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
If the government has a web site that discusses cancer treatments, and enough people complain that chemotherapy is somehow destructive to a person, then yes, the government should block it from their web site. The abortion information is on the www, you just can't access by going through the governments search engines...
robit robit 9 years
UnDave35 - some people don't support the use of chemotherapy as a cancer treatment - should the government block searches for chemotherapy out of respect to people who prefer alternative treatments for cancer? And before someone tells me that it's a ridiculous comparison -abortion is a LEGAL procedure - just like chemotherapy.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
It is available, just not at this website. This is an issue of should the government be involved in supporting said choice. If the government provides information supporting aborting, it in effect infringes on my right to not support abortion. While abortion is legal, the government should not alienate a percentage of the population by supporting something that we think should not be legal.
LadyAngel89 LadyAngel89 9 years
This absolutely makes me furious. I'm sorry but I don't personally think I would have an abortion, but I dont want to hear about the young girls (that keep getting younger) that try to self abort because it was illegal or too hard to find help. That information should be available to everyone, including the pro/con propeganda.
megnmac megnmac 9 years
I hate the inability to address each aspect of the issue. I do believe there is a morality decision made each time an abortion is contemplated. I think there is a further policy decision, and I am strongly pro-choice when discussing legal interference on such an intimate level. In a marketplace of unrestricted ideas, we as a nation should be able to learn and know about important choices, including abortion!!! Ultimately, we as a country must hold ourselves to higher standards and cannot allow information suppression and outright lies. Science and information shouldn't be suppressed simply because of a moral outrage - those that have it should express that moral outrage, but should not be able to channel their beliefs through governmental suppression and should not stop the next person from being able to learn.
siren6 siren6 9 years
I don't understand why while the rest of the world is moving forward and progressing the Bush Administration is fighting tooth and nail to throw the US backwards twenty - thirty, forty - years. I know I shouldn't be shocked by this sort of thing anymore, but I am. Thanks so much for the update baltimoregal. That made me so angry I was about to have a stroke.
remedios remedios 9 years
Is this really shocking to anyone? Thanks for the update, baltimoregal.
robit robit 9 years
em1282 - I always say that I am proudly pro-choice and I won't use the phrase "pro-life" because it implies that I don't care about life. I do, I care very strongly about life, and the quality of life - it's why I'm pro-choice - because I've seen what happens when children aren't wanted. I want all options to be available - abortion, adoption, or support carrying a pregnancy to term and helping someone raise a child. I'm pro-choice because I love children and want them to have a life where they are wanted and loved and not abused. "anti-choice" (referring to reproductive choice) is the term I find used more than "pro-life" - because as you said, supporting a woman's right to choose has nothing to do with being "pro-death".
Bookish Bookish 9 years
I'm so glad that all our politicians are also fully-trained doctors, and therefore qualified to make decisions about health information. Oh wait.
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
I don't like the government making decions for me or my family.
tiabia tiabia 9 years
Thanks for the update baltimoregal.
baltimoregal baltimoregal 9 years
UPDATE!!! Following Wednesday’s revelation that the USAID-funded POPLINE reproductive health database had deliberately blocked users from performing a simple search on “abortion” because, “As a federally funded project, we decided this was best for now,” medical librarians, feminists, public health professionals and others responded with outraged blog posts and calls and letters to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where the database is managed. Today, Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH (Dean of the School at Hopkins) has released a statement detailing the events and indicating that the ability to search the database for “abortion” will be restored. Dr. Klag notes: 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 ordered 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. Thank you to everyone who worked to call attention to this issue.
tiabia tiabia 9 years
Kris, It's delightfully vague...and delightfully AWESOME!!!
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
ha em, i think we discussed that in some post a month or more back. It was something to do with abortion, but we were talking about how "pro-choice" had a nicer connotation than "pro-abortion." I'm with ya. I am definitely PRO-life. all kinds of life. but pro-choice in terms of choosing. isn't that delightfully vague? :)
em1282 em1282 9 years
"Separation of church and state my urethra!!!" Hahahahaha! I love it tiabia! Blocking out search results is not going to solve any problems or stop abortions. Good God. Don't people know that it's not that simple? ...also, this is kind of off-topic, but I have to say that I really resent the terms "pro-choice" and "pro-life". I'm closer to "pro-choice" but I think that somehow makes me "pro-death" according to the terminology. (I know, semantics, but still). I want the troops to come home from Iraq so they can live...does that make me "pro-life" in any way?!?
Matdredalia Matdredalia 9 years
God...only 291 days left. *sighs and shakes head* Please, God. Make it go faster.
cubadog cubadog 9 years
This makes me so angry.
CupcakeGal10 CupcakeGal10 9 years
ami_z, I'm aware of the Mexico City Policy (a.k.a. the Global Gag Rule), and my opinion it's awful enough that we have this Reagan policy re-established. Prohibiting funds from going towards pro-choice organizations is one thing, but to have actual research and medical information blocked?! The line has to be drawn somewhere.
ktownpolarbear ktownpolarbear 9 years
this is so offensively wrong, but totally not surprised with the bush administration. this is ridiculous.
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