Friday, April 04, 2008

Popline makes abortion a dirty word

Don't know what Popline is? Popline is a reproductive health data base funded by USAID. In their own words:
POPLINE®(POPulation information onLINE), 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database on reproductive health, containing citations with abstracts to scientific articles, reports, books, and unpublished reports in the field of population, family planning, and related health issues. POPLINE is maintained by the INFO Project at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health/Center for Communication Programs and is funded by the United States Agency for International Development. (USAID).

POPLINE contains nearly 360,000 records and has been maintained since 1973 by the INFO Project (formerly Population Information Program). The majority of items are published from 1970 to the present, however, there are selected citations dating back to 1827. The database adds 12,000 records annually and is updated every Monday.

In addition to free text searching, the database can be searched by keywords from the POPLINE Thesaurus , a controlled vocabulary of 2,400+ terms used to index documents in the database.

POPLINE's special features include links to free, fulltext documents; the ability to limit your search to peer-reviewed journal articles; RSS feeds for topical searches; and many abstracts in French and Spanish.

But it seems, on April 1st, USAID and Popline adjusted their search function to add a few stopwords and some researchers noticed. (An email exchange you won't want to pass over.)

This is where you get to play a bit of a game. Go to the Popline search page and type in "Abortion".

The answer you'll receive from the world's largest reproductive health database is No records found by latest query. This, despite the fact that Popline has a library brimming with articles and peer reviewed papers on abortion. Popline has blocked search access to over 25,000 records.

Now go to Popline's search page and type in "Abstinence".

Result: 3940 records returned.

As Jurassicpork says,

The Cristopaths win again. Please play again after the elections!
And do hit Jurassicpork's link to the Mexico City policy of the Reagan era which was neatly resurrected by George W. Bush and his theocratic masters.

UPDATE: It appears Popline made a small adjustment to their search function. Searches for "Abortion" and "abortion" are now suddenly returning records. Slowly they are increasing in number with each subsequent search. Thanks to Mike in comments.

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