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Thursday, April 10, 2008

SF Librarians Bust Johns Hopkins for Removing ‘Abortion’ from Health Database

Posted By on Thu, Apr 10, 2008 at 11:17 AM

Last weekend, the New York Times ran a story about how Johns Hopkins University had programmed its computers to ignore the word ‘abortion’ when users searched their database of information on reproductive rights. Yeah, what does abortion have to do with reproductive rights anyway?

The school had bowed to pressure from federal officials. Librarians at the Medical Center for the University of California, San Francisco, noticed the omission and emailed officials at Johns Hopkins, who helpfully responded that maybe they should use the gentler terms "fertility control" or "pregnancy, unwanted."

Gail. L. Sorrough, director of medical library services at UCSF said that was "absurd." She did what anybody with a cause and a computer would do, she sent an email out on a listserv. It "exploded." The search restrictions have since been lifted. Mad props to Sorrough and her fellow librarians! --Andy Wright

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Andy Wright


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