Google loophole allows anti-abortion clinics to post deceptive ads

By: Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian, August 19, 2019

A new Google policy that was meant to rein in deceptive advertising by “crisis pregnancy centers” has a loophole that is allowing the centers to continue to post misleading ads on the search engine.

Crisis pregnancy centers often seek to aggressively discourage women from getting abortions and have earned the ire of abortion rights groups for often seeming to resemble abortion clinics.

Alice Huling, counsel at the Campaign for Accountability, a liberal ethics watchdog and Google critic, said Google’s policy change had not given enough thought to the ways in which users use the search engine.

“Google knows that there are a lot of CPCs out there that are actively trying to trick women about their reproductive health options,” Huling said. “There is no reason that those same tags couldn’t be applied across the board.”

Huling said many women turning to Google for information, especially about an unplanned pregnancy, might be doing a “generic” search for information about their options, and that crisis pregnancy centers were purposely targeting women who were possibly thinking about abortion.

“They are trying to locate and populate those searches so that in a face-to-face discussion they can try to convince a woman to not have an abortion, including through ultrasounds or providing false information about or health and safety concerns,” she added.

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