“Abortion” keyword blocked from public health database after complaint from U.S. agency


Administrators at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health blocked the word “abortion” as a search term in a public health database after the office of a U.S. agency complained about two abortion-related articles in the database, Wired.com reports.

A spokesperson for the government office that lodged the complaint said the block resulted from a misunderstanding.

Tim Parsons, a spokesman for the Maryland school, said, "The items in question had to do with abortion advocacy -- the two items dealing with abortion were removed following this inquiry, and the administrators made a decision to restrict abortion as a search term."

The PopLine search site is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), a federal office in charge of providing foreign aid, including health care funding, to developing nations.

Bush administration policy denies funding to non-governmental organizations that perform abortions or “actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations.”

Sandra Jordan, director of communications in USAID’s office of population and reproductive health, was unable to identify the two documents that had prompted the complaint.  However, she did say the publications were biased in favor of abortion rights.

Jordan said that the office’s request had been misunderstood, saying database administrators blocked the word “abortion” on their own.

"We're glad they're restoring the search function to the site -- the studies and statistical information are certainly important information to family planning," she said, according to Wired.com.

A search on “abortion” produced nearly 25,000 results from the database, but a search on Thursday resulted in the message “No records found by latest query.”

The school’s dean said in a Friday statement that he would launch an inquiry to determine why the change occurred.