Until recently, when you Googled “abortion clinics,” there was a high likelihood that ads for so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) would appear among the search results. According to research conducted by NARAL Pro-Choice America, ads for CPCs appeared 79% of the time when using Google to find abortion clinics. CPCs use lies and manipulation to discourage individuals from seeking an abortion. Contrary to what their ads imply, CPCs do not offer abortion services and counseling. When you call the center, you may be told that abortion is physically and psychologically damaging. You may also be told that birth control pills cause abortions, and that abortions cause breast cancer. None of this is truthful information. The deception begins even before you call. CPCs use ambiguous ads that prey upon the fear and concern someone facing an unwanted pregnancy might feel. Here are some examples of CPC ads.
After receiving pressure from NARAL, Google has agreed to remove most of the Internet search ads for CPCs, citing violations of Google’s terms of service. Google’s advertising policy states that, “factual claims and offers should always be credible and accurate”; the CPC ads are neither credible nor accurate. In a press release, Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL, claimed that this move by Google was a “victory for truth in advertising and for the women how have been targeted by a deliberate misinformation campaign by crisis pregnancy centers.” In a statement regarding the ad removals, Google stated that they had simply applied their ad policy standards in this situation. When they found that the ads did not comply with policy standards, they followed normal company procedures to disable them. Google generally takes a stringent approach to blocking content from its search pages, but, because NARAL was able to demonstrate that these ads directly violated Google’s policies, they were able to take action. NARAL plans to encourage other search engines to examine CPC ads.