Once a woman decides to have an abortion, the next step is to find a facility in her area that actually can perform the abortion. In years past, most women would go to their closet, get out the Yellow Pages and let their fingers do the walking to the “Abortion” category. Once there, she would see a number of ads placed by the clinics.
What a lot of women didn’t realize, however, was that a number of the ads were actually placed by anti-abortion facilities or “crisis pregnancy centers.” The ads were slick, never really saying whether or not they performed abortions. The goal was to try to get unsuspecting women to come to their facility where they would then try to dissuade them, often using hard-handed and questionable “information” to do so. The abuses are pretty well documented. Indeed, once these “phony abortion clinics” were exposed, the Yellow Page Association was forced to create a new separate category entitled “Abortion Alternatives” for anti-abortion facilities. I am intimately aware of the course of these events because I was on the staff of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers at the time – the organization that spearheaded the effort to make sure women knew exactly who they were calling.
Today, most patients do not go to the Yellow Pages for abortion services. Heck, they don’t go to the Yellow Pages for anything anymore. Instead, they go to Al Gore’s Internet. And now, the problem of sketchy advertising is rearing its ugly head again.
A woman who has decided to have an abortion will probably do a Google Search for “abortion” or “abortion services” or “abortion clinics.” If she were interested in getting the pro-life perspective, she might search for “pro-life” or “anti-abortion information” or words to that effect. But if she wants the abortion, she will do her search, get to that page and immediately sees a number of ads listed in the “sponsored links” section. That means those facilities are actually paying Google to be advertised in those prominent positions. And, lo and behold, included in some of the sponsored links are some anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers! Then, when you click into their ad and get to their website, it’s the same old story. They use phrases like “abortion counseling,” “abortion stories,” and “abortion information.” I searched and searched and found nothing that says “we are anti-abortion.”
Now, I get that the cpcs could argue that they are in fact providing “abortion information” or “counseling.” But I think the more honest approach would be to say you are providing “anti-abortion counseling.” Also, I’m sure the pro-lifers who read my world famous blog will come up with examples of how the advertising for the clinics can be “deceptive.” Indeed, if you DO have examples let us know and we’d be happy to respond.
The point is why do folks play such games with women who are in very emotionally sensitive situations? Why not be totally up front about what you want to offer? Then let the women make up their minds if they want to utilize your services. Meanwhile, I think it would very interesting if someone (perhaps those that manage www.abortion.com) sent an inquiry to the folks at Google and the other search engines asking them to devise something like the Yellow Page folks did years ago so the Internet advertising was just a little more “honest.”
Don’t the women deserve that much?