Offender: Google AdWords department
Media Outlet: Google
Offense: Google AdWords no longer accepts ads for abortion services in the following countries: Germany, Poland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, France, Italy and Spain.
NOW’s Analysis: When you search for something on Google, in addition to the search results, Google displays ads related to that term. This advertising vehicle, called AdWords, helps businesses attract customers and it can help searchers find products and services they may be interested in. A search on the term “abortion” should bring up links to websites that use the term and paid ads for services, such as clinics. But not in the 15 countries listed above.
The countries affected by this update in policy seem to have been chosen almost at random, representing a fairly broad range of political climates. Feministing contacted Google to get to the bottom of this, and a spokesperson offered little enlightenment beyond saying that they “made the change to ensure our policy was fair, up-to-date, consistent with local laws and codes of practice.”
Google claims not to take a side on the “emotive subject” of abortion; however, it’s curious that this change in policy happened at the same time Google decided to start accepting ads from religious organizations that “aim to educate and inform” or advance a position on abortion legislation. Reproductive rights groups may also place “factual” or “campaigning” ads on Google in those 15 countries; the ban is on ads that might actually direct women to specific abortion providers. Though Google attempts to offer neutral territory in the war on reproductive freedom, the fact that a conscious decision was made to withhold reproductive health care information from women in 15 countries certainly suggests anti-choice leanings.
Take Action: Write to Google and tell them that women in all countries should be able to view ads from abortion providers. Thanks to the Dutch non-profit Women on Waves for bringing this to the attention of women’s rights groups around the globe and organizing a petition effort.
National Organization for Women