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Google Sides with NARAL in Fight Against Crisis Pregnancy Centers

by: Genevieve Cato

Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 10:00 AM CDT

Google decided to remove web search ads for crisis pregnancy centers yesterday after reviewing evidence gathered by NARAL that these ads violated Google's "strict guidelines related to ad relevance, clarity, and accuracy," according to their advertising policies. Google generally takes a "guarded approach" to removing or blocking advertising content, the Washington Post reports, but the evidence found by NARAL's research could not be ignored.

It is not surprising that advertising for crisis pregnancy centers would violate an advertising policy based on "accuracy." Most crisis pregnancy centers depend on misinformation about their overarching goals to lure people in with the promise of medical support and guidance, while their whole goal is to prevent pregnant people from obtaining abortions - by any means necessary.

More on why Google chose to remove the ads of crisis pregnancy centers below the jump.  

In Texas, as licensed health facilities are forced to close due to restrictions contained in House Bill 2, crisis pregnancy centers (CPC's) pose risks for those seeking abortion services as well as people looking to carry their pregnancy to term. Where facilities providing abortion services are being restricted almost to the point of non-existence, CPC's are barely regulated.

Many of those who come to CPC's are drawn in by the services offered: free pregnancy tests, sonograms, and ultrasounds. These services are provided under the guise of a concern for women's health, but the true goal is to convince those receiving the services not to obtain an abortion - with those working at CPC's even going so far as to spread misinformation about abortion services and birth control.

In the absence of a local clinic providing affordable reproductive healthcare services, someone wanting to carry their pregnancy to term might choose to take advantage of the free services offered at a CPC. But the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists warns against this, pointing out that an unlicensed person does not know what they are looking for, or looking at. Indeed, the CPC staffer performing the sonogram or ultrasound may not recognize a fetal abnormality or other complication.

CPC's do not provide accurate information about abortion services. Instead, it is quite the opposite. This is why NARAL was surprised to find that 79% of searches for the term "abortion clinic" through Google resulted in advertising for these centers. The ads - and their placement - made it seem like abortion services and information were available at the centers, when nothing could be further from the case. Faced with such a clear abuse of its advertising policies, Google chose to remove advertising by crisis pregnancy centers.

This is certainly a victory for reproductive justice advocates. When pregnant people are looking for their options and use Google to search for services, the last thing they need in the middle of their difficult decision is misleading information from their search. As Heather Busby, President of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, explained in a statement:

When someone needs abortion services and searches online, they should be able to get accurate information. We're glad to see Google doing the right thing and not participating in the lies and deception that so many of these centers engage in.

Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL, also expressed her appreciation for Google's decision:

We're pleased with Google's leadership. People depend on their search engines to provide them with accurate information... We're hoping other actors will follow suit.

Crisis pregnancy centers are misleading and dangerous. Not only do they rely on misinformation to bring clients in, but they continue to mislead and confuse those who utilize their services in order to influence their decisions about their reproductive choices. Google's move to take down these misleading ads is a great step towards reproductive justice, but CPC's still pose a threat to reproductive health - especially in Texas, where access to family planning services is under greater threat than ever.  

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