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PRESS STATEMENT: Reproductive Health Professionals Criticize Censorship of Content Related to Abortion on USAID-Funded Database; Applaud Dean's Reversal

Statement of Wayne Shields, President and CEO, Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP)

For Immediate Release
April 5,  2008

Washington, DC - ARHP applauds the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Dean's reversal of POPLINE's decision to remove the search term "abortion" from their database. This action helped rectify what amounted to ideological censorship that could negatively impact patient care and is of great concern to reproductive health professionals everywhere.

Too often in this political climate we see political ideology trumping science in the field of reproductive health. Removing abortion as a search term on a publicly funded reproductive health care database is clearly a decision driven by ideology - and not based on the medical or scientific needs of the reproductive health professional community the database exists to serve.

POPLINE implied the decision to remove the term abortion was based on their funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and told an inquiring librarian that "as a federally funded project, we decided this was best for now." Unfortunately, USAID has a history of using ideology instead of science to make reproductive care and funding decisions. For example, USAID has withheld funding from developing countries if potential grantees provide abortion services or abortion referrals to women.

Beyond the censorship of literature on elective abortion, the actions taken by POPLINE would have had further consequences. In clinical terms, the word "abortion" applies to much more than just elective terminations of pregnancy. Women with wanted pregnancies and their health care providers who are looking for information on spontaneous abortion, inevitable abortion, incomplete abortions, missed abortions, and related medical information, would have been deprived of this key data. POPLINE's "stopword" action would have greatly limited the ability of health care providers and women to link to the scientific literature on the topic of abortion, directly impacting patient care.

ARHP applauds the Dean's decision to restore public access to evidence-based information on abortion and abortion-related research, and to restore public confidence that science—not ideology—is used to develop publically-funded education, research, and policy.


The Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP) is the leading source for trusted medical education and information on reproductive and sexual health. ARHP educates health care providers, informs consumers, and helps shape public policy. ARHP is a non-profit membership association composed of highly qualified and committed experts in reproductive health. ARHP members are health professionals in clinical practice, education, research, and advocacy and they include physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurse midwives, researchers, educators, pharmacists, and other professionals in reproductive health. To learn more, visit: