Google goaded into purging pro-life ads

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from WORLD,

NARAL Pro-Choice America has been pecking at Google to remove “deceptive” advertisements placed by crisis pregnancy centers (CPC) for months. On Monday, the abortion-rights group trumpeted victory: Google has apparently plucked from its search results more than two-thirds of ads placed by CPCs for allegedly violating its policy against “misleading, inaccurate, and deceitful ads” that “hurt everyone.”

NARAL President Ilyse Hogue called the ads a “deliberate misinformation campaign” and “manipulation” targeting women who are searching online for abortion services and resources. The Washington Post reported that an analysis by NARAL discovered 79 percent of CPC ads “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.” NARAL representatives did not respond to my request for an interview.

NARAL’s claims make it sound like the majority of CPC ads tell bare-face lies about their services and pretend to offer abortions. Clearly, many readers who commented on the Washington Post article got that impression, too. But none of the examples of “deceptive ads” highlighted on NARAL’s own website actually claims to provide abortion. One ad that popped up for the word search “abortion clinics hartford ct” had the headline “Abortion Information—Is it safe? How much does it cost?”

A word search for “abortion minnesota” displayed an ad stating, “Abortion Info for Teens: Teen abortion experiences, facts, stats, complications, survivors.” Another ad condemned on NARAL’s “Exposing Fake Clinics” Tumblr blog advertised “Abortion Resources” and “Free & Private Info/Ultrasounds. Determine Viability/Gestational Age.”

Perhaps the ad that best meets NARAL’s complaint is one from a CPC in Chicago: “Abortion Chicago Free—It’s Your Choice. You May Not Need An Abortion. Free Ultrasound & Test.” The ad’s title might be ambiguous, but the subtext is pretty clear: It tells women they may not need an abortion, not that they can get an abortion at the CPC.

Debi Harvey, director of Open Arms Pregnancy Clinic in Northridge, Calif., said it’s “very rare” that CPCs act with a lack of integrity in their advertising, literature, or counseling. All the CPCs she knows are affiliated with national organizations and “adhere to a strict standard of ethics,” she said. “It grieves me that ‘pro-choice’ people are so blatantly disparaging pregnancy centers. … They might find one exception, or two, or three, and then they publish a full-on report on how this is what all pregnancy centers do. They paint us with a very broad brush.”

NARAL and other anti-CPC groups frequently cite private investigations and official reports claiming CPCs distribute literature and quote debunked statistics on abortion risks, such as increased risk of breast cancer, future fertility problems, and psychological trauma. But the congressional committee report they wave as evidence was prepared in 2006 at the request of a Democratic representative with a long pro-abortion voting record. The report investigated only 25 out of the 2,500 pregnancy centers in the United States, of which 23 were successfully contacted and 20 were found “guilty” of “harmful and misleading” information. NARAL’s own private “investigations” are hardly objective, either.

NARAL’s main beef is the very existence of crisis pregnancy centers—a fact the group doesn’t attempt to hide. NARAL resorts to vicious name-calling when referring to CPCs, using labels like “fake clinics” and “predators.”

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