Was NARAL's Claim of Success in Pulled Crisis Pregnancy Center Ads from Google Grossly Exaggerated?

Last week pro-abortion political action group NARAL claimed that its pressure on Google to remove ads from its site for crisis pregnancy centers had been successful. New information, however, including some from Google itself, suggests the abortion giant’s claims may have been grossly exaggerated.

Referring to the ads for pregnancy centers that encourage women to consider options other than abortion as “deceptive anti-choice ads” and to these centers as “predatory,” NARAL claimed the ads violated Google’s advertising practices by “misrepresenting the services the centers provide and put women’s health at risk.”

As Breitbart News reported following its own “investigation” of the ads and its alleged “work with Google,” NARAL announced that over two-thirds of the ads identified have now been removed.

“Google’s leadership in removing the majority of these ads is a victory for truth in advertising and for the women who have been targeted by a deliberate misinformation campaign by crisis pregnancy centers,” said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL. “The action taken by Google to address this pressing problem raises the bar for other search engines to monitor and enforce their own advertising policies.”

As Joan Frawley Desmond reports at National Catholic Register, however, two days after NARAL issued its big announcement, a search on Google revealed an overabundance of ads for crisis pregnancy centers (CPC’s), and Google itself has not confirmed NARAL’s claim of a broad policy shift at the web giant that would ban most pregnancy center ads.

While pro-life leaders are still evaluating the impact of NARAL’s actions, they are clearly questioning whether the pro-abortion organization exaggerated its claims in the hopes of energizing its base and further denigrating the pro-life centers.

The Register report indicates that, in an emailed statement, a Google spokesman said, “We’re constantly reviewing ads to ensure they comply with our AdWords policies, which include strict guidelines related to ad relevance, clarity and accuracy.”

“If we find violations, we’ll take the appropriate actions — including account disablings and blacklists — as quickly as possible,” the spokesman added.

The Register also reports, however, that one anonymous Google source alleged that NARAL had pushed for a wider response to address what it calls "misleading" CPC ads. Though NARAL’s additional issues were not articulated by Google, the pro-abortion group stated that its own “investigations” found that pregnancy centers “lie to women about abortion causing an increased risk of breast cancer, future fertility problems and psychological trauma… in order to convince them to carry their pregnancies to term.”

NARAL did not respond to the Register’s request for comment.

Margaret Hartshorn, president of Heartbeat International, an organization that helps connect needy women and families to over a thousand U.S. pregnancy health centers, maternity homes, and nonprofit adoption agencies, told the Register that only a few network members reported problems with their pregnancy center ads being pulled from Google.

“The handful of cases where directors reported… that their ads were pulled turned out to be incorrect,” said Hartshorn. “These centers got the message that their ad needed to be reviewed, and they did not give permission for the review and thought the ad was pulled.”

In fact, she added, the ads were only delayed pending the review and then reinstated.

Hartshorn said NARAL’s claims are “simply one more in a long line of attacks that Planned Parenthood has launched on CPCs since the ‘80s.”

“Planned Parenthood has not been successful using legislation to close centers down at the state and local level,” she added. “So they are trying to use the media to attack the CPCs.”

Hartshorn said her organization does a great deal of keyword advertising with Google successfully.

“Google reviews ads constantly. It does not accept deceptive ads, and we are in agreement with that,” Hartshorn said, adding, however, that pro-life groups must still accommodate Google’s “abortion policy,” which places limitations on ads related to abortion, such as barring ads that contain "gruesome imagery" or phrases such as “abortion is murder.”

For now, however, pro-life groups and pregnancy centers are calling upon Google to maintain a policy of neutrality regarding the policy debate.


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