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Google Changes Policy after Backlash over Anti-Abortion Ads

(Aly Song/Reuters)

Google has adopted a more stringent policy regarding health-care and medical advertisements after facing severe criticism over reports it provided $150,000 worth of free advertising to pro-life crisis-pregnancy centers.

Advertisers using “keywords related to getting an abortion” must now apply for a designation as an entity that either provides abortions or one that does not provide them, according to Google’s policy update. Google will verify the information the advertiser provides and then automatically generate a disclosure in the ad that the advertiser either “Provides abortions” or “Does not provide abortions.”

“This added transparency will help ensure that users have the necessary information to decide which abortion-related ads are most relevant to them,” Google said.

The policy will go into effect in June and will apply to advertisers in the U.S., U.K., and Ireland.

Google’s decision comes after a report in the Guardian that Google provided a network of nonprofit pro-life clinics, the Southern California-based Obria Group, with $32,000 in 2011 and a $120,000 advertising grant in 2015.

“Google should in no way be subsidizing any misinformation campaigns, especially campaigns designed to deceive women about their own reproductive care options,” said Representative Carolyn Maloney in a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai co-signed by Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D., Ore.).

“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,” Google previously explained.

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