Magazine article American Libraries

Librarians Stop Abortion Stop-Listing

Magazine article American Libraries

Librarians Stop Abortion Stop-Listing

Article excerpt

The March 31 discovery by an academic librarian that the administrator of the reproductive-health database Popline (Population Information Online) had placed the search word "abortion" on its stop list, or file of blocked terms, has led to the dean of Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health reversing the decision a scant five days later.

Administered by JHU, Popline is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and contains more than 360,000 items about family planning and sexually transmitted disease. However, federal laws dating back to 1973 prohibit the use of federal funds for abortion advocacy or supplies.

After finding that a routine Popline search on the word "abortion" retrieved fewer citations at the end of March than it had in January, librarian Gloria Won of the Medical Center of the University of California at San Francisco e-mailed database officials to ask about the discrepancy. Popline Database Manager/Administrator Debra L. Dickson replied April 1, "We recently made all abortion terms stop words. …

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