The search engine giant Yahoo has pulled a number of pro-life advertisements for crisis pregnancy centers from web searches that include the term ‘abortion clinic,’ stating that the ads may violate its policies.
According to reports, Yahoo had been petitioned by NARAL Pro-Choice America and the women’s rights group Ultraviolet to remove the advertisements, as they had asserted that the ad placements are deceptive. Some of the advertisements are believed to have been placed by Online for Life, whose mission is “using the Internet to rescue babies from abortion.”
The move comes just weeks after the organizations urged Google to do the same.
“No search engine should allow themselves to be complicit in such a manipulative campaign to lure women into ideologically driven facilities by masquerading as actual abortion service providers,” wrote NARAL President Ilyse Hogue in a statement.
Hogue was referring to her belief that it is wrongful that advertisements for crisis pregnancy centers appear when one searches for an abortion facility, including those that she says could mislead the visitor into thinking that the location is actually an abortion provider.
“These ads use the search term ‘abortion clinic’ when they don’t provide those services,” a petition launched by the group contended.
But Matt Bowman of the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) says that there is nothing misleading about the advertisements.
“NARAL … reluctantly released the complaint letter it sent to Google. It contains only one example: an ad saying ‘Free Abortion Consultation.’ But pro-life centers do offer free consultation on abortion,” he wrote in an op-ed published by the National Review.
“NARAL’s entire complaint letter insists that a fully truthful pregnancy-center ad should be censored just because it shows up in searches using the terms ‘abortion clinic,'” Bowman continued. “This would lead to breathtaking censorship of the Internet, because people searching for information on abortion would only get pro-abortion propaganda in the ads.”
He also alleged that NARAL is being hypocritical as abortion advertisements may likewise appear under pro-life searches.
“NARAL doesn’t even live by its principles: Searches for ‘abortion alternatives’ and even ‘crisis pregnancy center’ nearly always produce ads for abortionists, yet NARAL would scream bloody murder if abortionists’ ads were censored,” Bowman noted.
Yahoo told reporters this past week that it is in the process of reviewing the advertisements and has begun removing those that it believes violate company policy.
“We have found at least some of the ads to be out of compliance with our policies and we are taking them down,” a spokesperson told CNET. “We’re in the process of reviewing the other ads and will take similar action if any are found to not be in compliance with our policies.”