Google announced in May that it would be implementing a new ad policy that would directly affect pregnancy help organizations. The policy requires ads using keywords related to abortion to carry one of two disclaimers: “Provides abortion” or “Does not provide abortions.”
Today, Google officially enacted this new policy.
Tweet This: .@Google Enacts Policy on Abortion-Related Ads - What it means for #prolife pregnancy centers & the women they serve.
In the United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland, if you want to run ads using keywords related to getting an abortion, you first need to be certified as an advertiser that either provides abortions or does not provide abortions. Depending on how you’re certified, Google will automatically generate one of the following in-ad disclosures for your abortion product or service ads: 'Provides abortions' or 'Does not provide abortions.' This policy applies to all Search ad formats.
At the time of the announcement, it was unclear how this new policy would affect pregnancy help organizations, like those affiliated with Heartbeat International. These organizations present options and opportunities to overcome temporary obstacles for those not at all certain they want an abortion. Providing caring services at no charge (such as pregnancy testing, ultrasound, material support, parenting help, and long-term life-skills coaching), these organizations compete with abortion providers in digital marketing space to make sure women’s choices are not limited to just abortion.
With the implementation of the new ad policy, it appears that the only ads impacted at this time are those where the pregnancy help organization utilizes the word "abortion" as a keyword, though the word "abortion" does not appear at all in the second ad listed.
The issue remains that an ad aimed at women searching for "abortion information" now automatically creates the in-ad tags stating "does not perform abortion" reducing the ability for pregnancy centers to compete with abortion providers on a digital scale. These in-ad tags are unnecessary as pregnancy help organizations state on their websites that they do not refer for nor provide abortion. Women deserve to have the information they need before making an abortion decision, not just abortion information from those who profit from abortion.
The good news for life-affirming pregnancy help organizations is that not all Google ads are automatically impacted. Since the policy requires organizations to register with Google as an organization that "does not perform abortions," it was unclear at the time of Google's announcement of a new policy if all ads by pregnancy help organizations would automatically be tagged.
A search for "free pregnancy test" resulted in ads from the same pregnancy centers from above without the in-ad tag.
While it is uncertain if Google's new ad policy will expand to include additional keywords affecting digital marketing for the pro-life movement, we do know that the tech giant has the ability to change policies swiftly and impact millions of lives with the click of a button.
Editor's Note: Multiple requests to Google regarding this policy and how broad it may or may not go have gone unanswered since May.