Class Act: Google targeting poor US women, not rich ones, with anti-abortion ads
Based on previous findings, the study reveals exactly how Google directs its users searching for abortion clinics to something called ‘crisis centres’ – organisations that only pose as abortion clinics to steer women away from accessing abortion care
Washington: Women from low-income groups are more likely to be targeted by Google to promote anti-abortion ads, says a study by Tech Transparency Project.
Based on previous findings, the study reveals exactly how Google directs its users searching for abortion clinics to something called “crisis centres” – organisations that only pose as abortion clinics to steer women away from accessing abortion care.
How was the research carried out?
Researchers at the Tech Transparency Project – a research hub that seeks to hold big tech companies accountable – set up test accounts in three different cities across US, Atlanta, Miami and Phoenix.
The test accounts were made in the name of women from three income groups suggested by Google – average or lower-income rate, moderately high-income rate and high-income rate.
From these accounts they entered specific keywords like “abortion clinics near me” and “I want abortion”.
The results of the research showed that low-income women are targeted by such ads more as compared to their wealthier counterparts.
In Phoenix, for example, 56 per cent of the anti-abortion ads were shown to accounts representing low to moderate-income women. In Atlanta, 42 per cent of the ads were shown to this group.
It is important to note here that women from lower-income groups are least likely to be able to afford travelling long distances to access an abortion clinic. Therefore, they usually look for clinics in their own neighbourhoods.
The director of Tech Transparency Project, Katie Paul said, “By pointing low-income women to [crisis pregnancy centers] more frequently than higher-income women in states with restrictive laws, Google may delay these women from finding an actual abortion clinic to get a legal and safe abortion.”
“Lower-income women are being targeted, and they’re the ones that are going to suffer the most under these policies,” she added.
What are crisis pregnancy centres?
According to a journal called Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health a crisis pregnancy centre’s “primary mission is to dissuade women from choosing abortion.”
The centres, which are mostly affiliated with religious organisations, offer services like pregnancy tests and also help with resources like diapers or clothes for babies alongside counselling with an anti-abortion message.
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