Abortion? No such thing

Try ‘post-conception fertility control’.   Women’s Health News writes:

entering “abortion” as a search term in the POPLINE database now returns zero results because of a move by the database personnel to block that search. For background, POPLINE is “the world’s largest database on reproductive health, containing citations with abstracts to scientific articles, reports, books, and unpublished reports in the field of population, family planning, and related health issues.” The librarian who noted the problem inquired about it, and was informed that it wasn’t a simple technical glitch; the response she received was, “We recently made all abortion terms stop words. As a [US] federally funded project, we decided this was best for now.” f you’re not familiar with “stop words,” they are typically words like “a,” “an,” and “the” that are omitted automatically from the search, because they is assumed to have no added value or meaning. Suffice it to say, it’s quite unusual for a word with “real” meaning to be a stop word, especially one so relevant to the resource being searched.

Wow. It is now impossible to get a decent search of POPLINE using ‘abortion’ as a search term. And the way this was accomplished is fascinating: the system was set to treat it like ‘a’ or ‘the’. But there are ways around this block on searching, if you know what you’re doing (which you can check out in the full email correspondence at Crooks and Liars). Here’s one they suggest:

In addition to the terms you’re already using, you could try using ‘Fertility Control, Postconception’.

Now there’s a fabulous euphemism. In case it needs stating: this is quite a stunning situation. A US-government funded reproductive rights database has decided that “for now” it’s best to block people from searches using the word ‘abortion’. Add it to the list of the many ways in which the current US government wants to make accurate reproductive scientific information hard to obtain. Thanks, ProfBigK!

11 thoughts on “Abortion? No such thing

  1. A tiny comfort, from today’s NY Times, “Americans are more dissatisfied with the country’s direction than at any time since the New York Times/CBS News poll began asking about the subject in the early 1990s.” 81%, that is, think the country is going in the wrong direction.

  2. Political corectness gone cookoo bananas? I think yes!…

    Hmmm I am no law/political expert but isint this borderline censorchip (if not full loaded censorship?)

    Anyhow keep up the great work :)
    pKay.

  3. Hi everyone … this news started circulating through feminist blogs and reproductive health circles over the last couple days. It is a HUGE issue and it is real. Anyone who can find any way of publicizing this completely shameful turn of events should do so. There is simply no spin on this that makes it even slightly OK.

  4. You should see the comments section of Wired on this article. All the wacko antis have invaded, and some of them are aping what they think is genuine pro-choice behavior. Since they have no idea what real pro-choice people are like, hilarity ensues.

  5. Phoenix Woman: Thanks for your comment. It became clear as I went through the comments on Wired that the situation was changing. Hence, the update in a new post.

  6. Phoenix Woman:

    Wacko indeed! Nothing worse than people disagreeing on the destruction of unborn babies. The NERVE of those Bible thumping Christians!

    (Wow, there are more euphemisms on this page than Planned Barrenhood’s website. Good show!)

    ~~ Sisyphus, http://www.tsfiles.wordpress.com

  7. Do you REALLY think it is the conservatives that don’t want you to be able to search “abortion”?
    I would think it is the abortion, oh, excuse me, the post-conception fertility control doctors that would want to keep you ignorant to the facts of how these procedures are performed.

  8. TKK: unfortunately for your hypothesis, it was a conservative political organization that decided to block access.

  9. tsfiles: The idea that pro-choice advocates are talking about the destruction of unborn babies is your interpretation, and that of many highly conservative activists. Whether it is warranted by the facts is at the very least highly debatable.

    However, given that is your belief, you must think that nature, which allows many pregnancies to terminate without anyone’s intention or awareness, is extremely cruel. Think of all the so-called babies that are flushed away or thrown out with the garbage. Hardly evidence of a pro-life benevolence in nature.

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