Dingell to Investigate ‘Abortion’ Search Ban
In the wake of news that a federally funded reproductive health database was programmed earlier this year to ignore searches containing the word “abortion,” Congress has gotten in on the act.
Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) announced today that the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which he chairs, will investigate the manipulation of the Population Information Online database, run by The Johns Hopkins University and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Reports indicate that university employees blocked “abortion” searches after USAID officials expressed concerns that two articles contained in the database centered on abortion advocacy.
POPLINE is the largest database of its kind in the world, holding roughly 360,000 articles and records related to reproductive health.
In letters to both Hopkins and USAID, Dingell announced his investigation into “the restriction of scientific inquiry,” and asked leaders of both offices to provide details about how the decision was made.
I am concerned that the restriction of certain search terms in the POPLINE database is an ideological decision, and not in line with the spirit of free scientific inquiry intended by the creation of such a database. In addition I am concerned that such a complete restriction was mandated after only two specific items were identified as questionable by POPLINE’s funding agency.
Dingell said he wants responses two weeks from today. But given this administration’s track record on releasing internal documents, he might not want to hold his breath.