Pro-life groups were allowed to advertise on Google for the first time this week after the search engine capitulated in the face of a legal challenge. Google had banned such groups from buying adverts against such terms as “abortion” and “abortion help” but a British group called the Christian Institute began court proceedings against the internet giant earlier this year , arguing that its policy was in breach of the UK’s Equalities Act, and over the summer recess Google changed its mind about fighting the action. It said it would be “creating a level playing field and enabling religious associations to place ads on abortion in a factual way”.
Mike Judge from the Christian Institute said: “Google were taking ads from pro-abortion groups, and our view is that was a free speech issue. What we want to do is set out the facts in a…pretty sensible way.” It remains to be seen what Google accepts as “factual”. The Times report mentions that “anti-abortion groups have been willing to use graphic images of aborted fetuses in an effort to make their point” — as if aborted fetuses were not “facts”.
A spokeswoman for Marie Stopes International said the abortion organisation supports Google’s decision because both sides in the abortion debate should “be given equal opportunity to set out their arguments” but it was worried about pro-life groups using “dodgy arguments” — “for example where people show images of 24-week-old aborted fetuses and say they are in fact 12 weeks old”. The Christian Institute took out its first Google ads on September 16; they link to a series of briefing papers and news articles about abortion. ~ Times Online, Sep 17