Government Bans the Word “Abortion”


Not content with trying to stop abortions, Bush regime flunkies have banished the word “abortion.”

Type the word in the search engine for Popline, the huge database that the federal government bills as “your connection to the world’s reproductive health issues.”

You get zero hits.

It’s not a glitch. It’s intentional.

Read about it on Maud Newton‘s excellent blog, and see the story that Wired posted a few hours ago.

Popline is funded by USAID, the highly politicized government agency that spreads money throughout the world, particularly in “developing” countries.

The Popline search engine considers “abortion” a “stop word,” like the articles “a,” “an,” and so on. Maud Newton notes that stop words are “terms automatically omitted from searches under the assumption that they don’t add value or meaning.”

After users of Popline noticed the sudden, unannounced change late last week, they queried Johns Hopkins people about it (the university runs the database). They professed ignorance until, as Newton notes, Debbie Dickson of Popline replied to a medical librarian with this:

Yes we did make a change in POPLINE. We recently made all abortion terms stop words. As a federally funded project, we decided this was best for now. In addition to the terms you’re already using, you could try using ‘Fertility Control, Postconception’. This is the broader term to our ‘Abortion’ terms and most records have both in the keyword fields. Also, adding ‘unwanted w2 pregnancy’ in place of aborti*. We have a keyword Pregnancy, Unwanted and there are 2517 records with aborti* & unwanted w2 pregnancy.

I hope this helps.

It doesn’t.

Dickson’s response was on April Fool’s Day, but this is no joke.

However, you can still search the words “1984” and “Orwell” on Popline and get hits. I guess those words still “add value or meaning.”