Google removes ‘deceptive’ adverts placed by American anti-abortion groups

Google has removed a number of adverts placed in web searches by pro-life groups that violated its policy against deceptive advertising.

The adverts were created by groups known as “crisis pregnancy centres” and appeared in users’ searches as “abortion clinics”. However, individuals who clicked through were be provided with information that discouraged them from seeking an abortion.

Google’s decision to remove the adverts came in response to a campaign by Naral Pro-Choice America, who found in a sample of cities that 79 per cent of Google adverts for “abortion clinic” referred to websites that “don’t provide or refer for abortion care”.

"We have no problem with crisis pregnancy centers advertising online; we have no problem with their existing," Illyse Hogue, president of Naral, told the Washington Post. "That is their right in America.”

Hogue and Naral do, however, object to the deceptive way the centres were being advertised. Google agreed, with the ads not following their policy of being “factually supportable”, truthful and accurate.

"Google’s leadership in removing the majority of these ads is a victory for truth in advertising," said Naral  in a statement. "Countless women will be spared lies and shaming tactics intended to stop them from making their own decisions based on real medical advice."

Google removed adverts that were misleading, but kept others that were more accurate in their language, such as one “crisis pregnancy centre” that advertises itself as offering “free abortion consultation”.

"We're constantly reviewing ads to ensure they comply with our AdWords policies, which include strict guidelines related to ad relevance, clarity, and accuracy," said Google in a statement.  "If we find violations, we'll take the appropriate actions — including account disablings and blacklists — as quickly as possible."

The president of National Right to Life in the US, Carol Tobias, described the internet giant’s decision as “ridiculous”. “Pregnancy resource centres offer free services to women who aren’t sure what kind of help they want or need,” Tobias told the Wall Street Journal.

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