Facing a legal challenge, the Internet search giant Google has relented and agreed to accept pro-life ads for the first time.
In April, The Christian Institute — a British organization — took legal action when Google did not approve an anti-abortion ad.
Google said at the time that its policy did not allow ads for Web sites containing “abortion and religion-related content.”
The Christian Institute argued in its lawsuit that Google’s policy was in breach of the U.K. Equality Act of 2006, which prohibits religious discrimination.
Google was taking ads “from pro-abortion groups, and our view is that was a free speech issue,” Mike Judge from The Christian Institute told The Times of London.
“What we want to do is set out the facts in a pretty factual and pretty sensible way.”
Instead of fighting the suit in court, Google has now agreed to revise its policy.
“The issue of abortion is an emotive subject and Google does not take a particular side,” the company said in a statement.
“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. Following the review we have decided to amend our policy, creating a level field and enabling religious associations to place ads on abortion in a factual way.”
Asked was Google meant by “factual,” Google spokesman Ben Novick told ABC News it meant that “ads need to aim to educate and inform, not shock,” and “cannot link to Web sites which show graphic images that aim to shock people into changing their minds.”
The policy change applies worldwide.
“We really applaud Google for making the right decision and standing by freedom of speech,” Charmaine Yoest, a spokeswoman for the anti-abortion organization Americans United for Life, told ABC News.
“It really was outrageous to censor The Christian Institute.”
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