Google is removing Web search ads for some “crisis pregnancy centers,” after an investigation by NARAL Pro-Choice America found evidence that the ads violate Google’s policy against deceptive advertising.
“We have no problem with crisis pregnancy centers advertising online; we have no problem with their existing,” said Illyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “That is their right in America.” But Hogue said NARAL objects to the way the centers have been promoted online, with ads that include text indicating that the centers provide abortions.
According to an analysis by NARAL, 79 percent of the crisis pregnancy centers that advertised on Google indicated that they provided medical services such as abortions, when, in fact, they are focused on counseling services and on providing information about alternatives to abortion.
Crisis pregnancy centers are all about deception. As many investigations across the country have found, CPCs regularly lie about abortion causing an increased risk of breast cancer, infertility, and the made-up “post traumatic abortion syndrome” in order to sway people away from choosing the procedure. Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do about the lies they tell pregnant people once they’re there. But we can prevent from them from using misleading advertising to get them in the door — and it’s no secret that’s what CPCs are deliberately trying to do. As NARAL notes, groups like Online for Life, which partners with dozens of CPCs on their online ads, “openly admit to seeking to reach ‘abortion-determined women’” who are searching for abortion resources.
Other search engines should follow Google’s lead in cracking down on CPC ads that violate their own policies. Between that and guerrilla action to ensure CPCs don’t get away with misleading subway and bus ads, here’s hoping no one is tricked into sitting through a manipulative lecture at a CPC ever again.
Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.