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:
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, read more.
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?