Google is removing advertisements for so-called crisis pregnancy centers, which are antiabortion counseling centers that have been repeatedly exposed using misleading and medically inaccurate information to prevent or discourage women from accessing abortion care.
The change comes as a result of a campaign led by NARAL Pro-Choice America, which had lobbied Google to remove the ads.
“Anyone looking for abortion services should be able to depend on their search engine to provide them with accurate resources,” NARAL President Ilyse Hogue said in a statement. “Anything less is aiding and abetting ideologically driven groups with a calculated campaign to lie to and shame women making one of the most important decisions of our lives.”
According to research from NARAL, people using Google to search for “abortion clinics” found ads advertising these anti-choice counseling centers nearly 80 percent of the time. These centers use the language of choice in advertising materials -- and often open nearby or on the same block as reproductive health facilities that provide abortion services -- in order to mislead women about the services they provide. These counseling centers do not provide abortion or abortion referrals.
The ads, NARAL points out, violate Google's advertising policy, which prohibits “misleading, inaccurate and deceitful ads." The ads must also be "factually supportable."
As Salon has previously noted, crisis pregnancy centers across the country have been caught using deceptive tactics -- like opening across the street from legitimate abortion providers in an effort to confuse women seeking comprehensive reproductive health services -- and telling women that abortion "causes breast cancer" and other lies about the procedure.
One of these counseling centers in Virginia was caught telling women that condoms are “naturally porous” and do not protect against STDs and that they would see the "child that [they] choose to kill" at the "end of the world."
“Google’s leadership in removing the majority of these ads is a victory for truth in advertising and for the women who have been targeted by a deliberate misinformation campaign by crisis pregnancy centers,” Hogue said. “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.”