At the urging of the nonprofit group NARAL Pro-Choice America, Google has agreed to remove paid advertisements from “crisis pregnancy centers,” which NARAL claims are deceptive marketing tactics by pro-life groups.
The “crisis pregnancy center” ads are sponsored by internet pro-life groups like Online for Life. The group targets users who are searching for “abortion clinic,” hitting them with ads about centers that don’t actually provide abortions, according to Al Jazeera America.
NARAL claims the ads direct those researching abortion to centers that present false information about abortion and birth control.
“We have no qualms with crisis pregnancy centers engaging in paid advertising,” Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL, wrote in a letter to Google CEO Larry Page in February. “However, we are deeply concerned with their false advertising practices.”
NARAL says that 4,000 crisis pregnancy centers located across the country sway women away from abortions using misleading tactics. The centers claim that abortion can lead to breast cancer, sterility and psychological trauma, as well as saying that birth control pills cause abortion.
At least one crisis pregnancy center ad results from a search for “abortion clinic” in 80 percent of searches in the 25 largest U.S. cities, according to NARAL research.
Google AdWords guidelines state that advertisements “should be accurate and truthful.”
"We're constantly reviewing ads to ensure they comply with our AdWords policies, which include strict guidelines related to ad relevance, clarity, and accuracy," Google told Al Jazeera in an emailed statement. "If we find violations, we'll take the appropriate actions — including account disablings and blacklists — as quickly as possible."
Hogue praised Google’s move to blacklist the ads.
“The action taken by Google to address this pressing problem raises the bar for other search engines to monitor and enforce their own advertising policies,” Hogue said in a statement on Monday.
“We will continue to work with Google to ensure that their commitment results in women being directed to the resources and services they are seeking when they search online, ending this manipulation of women making vital health decisions.”