Google Battles the Christian Right On Abortion—and Quickly Rolls Over

By Melissa Lafsky | September 25, 2008 11:19 am

You still can’t get away with saying it in Hollywood, but after a lawsuit by a Christian anti-choice group, now you can smack it in the center of a Google ad. The New York Times reports that Google is now allowing religious organizations to buy ads in the search giant’s vast network that contain the keyword “abortion.” In the past, the search juggernaut had followed a policy of not selling the “abortion” keyword to religious groups—though it would allow other groups, including doctors offering abortions and resource sites like Our Bodies, Ourselves, to purchase ads with the keyword.

Enter Britain’s staunch anti-choice group the Christian Institute, which took its case to court after Google rejected its ad containing the following: “UK abortion law: Key news and views on abortion law from The Christian Institute.” The ad was referring to a bill before the House of Commons concerning potential abortion restrictions.

The case is a clear example of how messy things can get when you mix technology and sociopolitics, and Google did the prudent thing by rushing to a quick settlement (the terms are undisclosed) and capitulating in full—Christian groups can now have the word as long as their ads are “determined to be factual, and not graphic or emotional.” If Google wants to dodge monopolism fears, it needs to establish itself as a free and unbiased marketplace for ads. Still, it’s a tricky line to walk—in order to prove you’re not a monopoly, you must suspend all political convictions in the process.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Science Goes to Washington

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