Google has closed a deal with a British fundamentalist Christian organisation, The Christian Institute, potentially allowing the group to place Google ads relating to abortion.
The Christian Institute earlier this year wished to place ads associated with UK Google searches for the word “abortion”, reading, “UK abortion law – news and views on abortion from the Christian Institute. www.christian.org.uk.” Google had refused to show the ad, claiming it had a policy of not allowing adverts for sites which combined the issue of abortion with religion. The Christian Institute responded by launching a law suit, appealing to the UK’s Equality Act 2006 which prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion in the provision of a good or service. They pointed out that Google had been accepting ads for abortion clinics, secular pro-abortion sites and secularist sites which attack religion.
Google has now announced an amendment to its abortion policy. “Over the last few months we have been reviewing our abortion ads policy in order to make sure it was fair, up to date, and consistent with local customs and practices,” a Google spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement. “Following the review we have decided to amend our policy, creating a level playing field and enabling religious associations to place ads on abortion in a factual way.”
Although Google has given some ground in their advertising policy, they’ve carefully left room for discretion when considering which sites are linked to their searches.
“Under our new policy, religious associations will be able to put up ads on Google in a factual and campaigning way,” explained a Google spokesperson. “This means that their ads need to aim to educate and inform, not to shock. The ads can refer to government legislation and existing law and the alternatives to abortion. But, they cannot link to Web sites which show graphic images that aim to shock people into changing their minds. In terms of campaigning, this means that the ads can link to Web sites which are taking a particular view on a piece of government legislation. But, once again, those Web sites cannot possess graphic images or language that aims to shock people.”
Google’s policies on allowable and banned advertising campaigns is online at Adwords.