September 24, 2008

Google Changes Policy, Allows Anti-Abortion Religious Groups to Buy Ads

Individuals using Google to find information on abortion will now see paid advertisements from anti-abortion religious groups.

Google last week revised its policy as part of an out-of-court settlement with the Christian Institute, a British organization that wanted to advertise on Google in March as the House of Commons was considering a bill on abortion.

Google had rejected the ad, which read in part, “UK abortion law: Key news and views on abortion law from The Christian Institute,” because it did not accept abortion ads from religious organizations.

The group sued Google in April, claiming the company was violating the Equality Act 2006 by discriminating against Christian groups. As The New York Times noted this week, Our Bodies Ourselves has used the keyword “abortion,” as have other resource organizations, doctors offering abortions, and secular groups.

The NYT’s Stephanie Clifford writes:

Google’s policies are based on a number of factors. “We build out our policies based upon local customs and business practices and, as any sensible business would do, review them from time to time to make sure they are up to date and current,” said Ben Novick, a London-based Google spokesman.

Google reviewed its policy, and announced last Wednesday it had reached a settlement with the Christian Institute. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but Google immediately began allowing ads linked to abortion from religious groups as long as they were determined to be factual, and not graphic or emotional ads. Google uses a combination of automated and manual processes to detect advertising violations. The change in policy applies worldwide.

Mike Judge of the Christian Institute told the Times (UK) that the Institute is not “a group of headbangers, and would set out its position in a pretty factual, pretty sensible way.”

Which prompted this response from Jossip: “Well, at least as sensible as one can be while telling a woman she needs to become an incubator for 18 years and nine months because she made a mistake.”


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