Pressure mounts on Google to pull ads for anti-abortion clinics that 'deceive women'

May 17, 2019
In The News

Google is facing pressure in Washington to immediately remove online advertisements for “fake medical clinics” that are designed to “mislead” women who are seeking an abortion.

Carolyn Maloney, a senior Democratic congresswoman from New York, said in a letter sent to Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, that she was “appalled” by a report in the Guardian that Google awarded $150,000 in free advertising to the Obria Group, which Maloney said had a history of falsely advertising medical services to women.

“Google should in no way be subsidizing any misinformation campaigns, especially campaigns designed to deceive women about their own reproductive care options,” Maloney said in her letter to Pichai.

“Your continued support of Obria Group’s intentional misinformation campaigns denies women access to truthful information about their medical choices,” she added.

The letter was jointly signed with Suzanne Bonamici, a Democratic congresswoman from Oregon.

Obria runs a network of health clinics which – in some ads – suggest they offer comprehensive reproductive health and family planning services, including abortion. But the organization is staunchly opposed to abortion and all forms of contraception.

The Guardian reported earlier this week that Google awarded Obria nearly $32,000 in free advertising in 2011, and $120,000 in 2015, as part of its Google grants program, which is meant to support not-for-profits around the world.

Google has already come under pressure in the past for running advertisements that appear to violate its own policies against misrepresentation in advertising, yet the company continues to publish ads for clinics that seem to offer abortion services but are actually opposed to terminations and try to dissuade women from seeking them out.

Maloney asked Google to take “immediate action to review and remove any advertisements for Obria or similar [crisis pregnancy centers] intended to mislead customers”. She also urged Google to implement new policies and procedures to ensure that deceptive advertisers were no longer awarded Google grants.

Google said in an earlier statement to the Guardian: “The Google ad grants program is open to qualified nonprofits regardless of their position on abortion and we give grants to nearly 50,000 organizations globally that represent a wide spectrum of views and causes.

“All grant recipients have to abide by our ad policies, which prohibit misrepresentation in ads. If we find ads that violate our policies, we remove them.”