After Google win, NARAL targets Yahoo ads

Abortion rights advocates are asking Yahoo to take down “crisis pregnancy center” ads that they say discourage women from having abortions.

The petition from NARAL Pro-Choice America and the women’s rights group UltraViolet comes fresh off of a victory with Google, which NARAL said took down similarly “deceptive” ads last month. 

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“We hope that Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer will follow Google's example and remove deceptive crisis pregnancy center ads so that women can continue to trust Yahoo to provide the accurate resources we are seeking when we use their platform,” NARAL President Ilyse Hogue said in a statement.

“No search engine should allow themselves to be complicit in such a manipulative campaign to lure women into ideologically driven facilities by masquerading as actual abortion service providers.”

Abortion rights advocates say that the pregnancy center ads violate search engines’ advertising policies by targeting people searching for abortions while, in fact, discouraging those services.

“These ads use the search term ‘abortion clinic’ when they don't provide those services,” NARAL said in the online petition.

Anti-abortion activists, though, were livid after Google’s action on the ads, and dispute that the ads are deceptive. They say the ads only provide the public with alternatives to abortion. 

“Without any evidence, NARAL defines any pro-life view as ‘deceptive,’ ” Alliance Defending Freedom senior legal counsel Matt Bowman wrote in a National Review op-ed this week.

The clinics do not lie about offering counseling, he added, and should be allowed to advertise to people searching for abortion services just as facilities providing abortions are able to do for people searching for “abortion alternatives.” 

“More than 2,300 pro-life pregnancy centers offer free help to women nationwide,” he wrote. “NARAL hasn’t shown proof that even one of them does anything except speak the truth.”

In their petition on Wednesday, NARAL pointed to a Chicago clinic that does not offer abortions but nonetheless advertised as a “Chicago Abortion Clinic.”

A Yahoo ad for another Illinois facility shared with The Hill read “Joliet Abortion Clinic,” but linked to a facility that offered “abortion alternatives.”

Under the terms of its advertising policies, Yahoo says that it can take down ads that it deemed to be “misleading, deceptive, false or untrue.”

— This story was updated at 12:25 p.m.

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