U.S. Deletes, Alters Gender Issue Web Data - Report
By Deborah Zabarenko
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration has stripped
information on a range of women's issues from government Web sites,
apparently in pursuit of a political agenda, researchers reported on
"Vital information is being deleted, buried, distorted and has
otherwise gone missing from government Web sites and publications,"
Linda Basch, president of the National Council for Research on Women,
said in a telephone interview.
"Taken cumulatively, this has an enormously negative effect on women
A council report said the missing information fell into four
categories: women's health; their economic status; objective
scientific data; and information aimed at protecting women and girls
and helping them advance.
The deletions and alterations appear to hew to a political agenda,
rather than providing the nonpartisan, unbiased data that has been the
tradition of U.S. government reports, the council said.
Its report cited a fact sheet from the Centers of Disease Control that
focused on the advantages of using condoms to prevent sexually
transmitted disease; it was revised in December 2002 to say evidence
on condoms' effectiveness in curbing these diseases was inconclusive.
The National Cancer Institute's Web site was changed in 2002 to say
studies linking abortion and breast cancer were inconsistent; after an
outcry from scientists, the institute later amended that to say
abortion is not associated with increased breast cancer risk.
25 PUBLICATIONS DELETED
At the Labor Department's Women's Bureau Web site, the report said 25
key publications on subjects ranging from pay equity to child care to
issues relating to black and Latina women and women business owners
had been deleted with no explanation.
Key government offices dedicated to addressing the needs of women have
been disbanded, according to the report. These include the Office of
Women's Initiatives and Outreach in the White House and the
President's Interagency Council on Women.
At the Pentagon, the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the
Services was slated to be dismantled but was saved after an outcry.
However, the report said this committee now focused on issues such as
health care for servicewomen and the effects of deployment on
families, but not on equity and access issues.
In the area of scientific objectivity, the report said two advisory
committees recommended the Food and Drug Administration approve a
contraceptive known as Plan B as a nonprescription drug but were
blocked by political pressure from doing so.
Regarding violence against women, the report said the U.S. attorney
general, as of March 2004, had failed to conduct and publish a study
required under the 2000 Violence Against Women Act to investigate
discrimination against domestic violence victims in getting insurance.
The White House did not immediately return a call for comment