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Reuters: Bush Administration Stripping US Govt Websites of Information on Women's Issues

April 28 By Deborah Zabarenko

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration has stripped

ormation on a range of women's issues from government Web sites, apparently in pursuit of a political agenda, researchers reported on Wednesday. The 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.


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.

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