Biased report attacks pregnancy centers for their online outreach to women

prenatal, abortion, down syndrome, pregnancy centers

(MinistryWatch) A year after the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, pro-life pregnancy centers are still being attacked by abortion supporters.

Last week, a spate of articles maligning the work of pregnancy care centers (PCCs) as misleading women and depicting them as receiving favorable treatment in Google search results reflected the content of a report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH).

MinistryWatch reached out to several of the named organizations, including pregnancy center support networks and marketing groups to get their response to the CCDH report.

“It is such a distortion of reality—suggesting Google is unfair in favor of pro-life organizations. It is just comical,” Scott Baker, vice president of public affairs for Choose Life Marketing, told MinistryWatch. On the contrary, Baker said it is an uphill battle daily for the PCCs he works with to get equal and fair treatment from Google.

Choose Life was criticized in the report targeting “abortion-determined” women. Baker is unashamed of the work Choose Life does to reach women who are searching for information about abortion. “We want to ensure women have access to the full story — not just one side.”

“We use common marketing tactics you see in other realms, and [CCDH] doesn’t like it when we have success,” he pointed out. He likened their marketing methods to car manufacturers crafting their campaigns so that a Chevrolet Camaro will pop up when someone searches for a Ford Mustang.

Jacob Barr of iRapture Marketing has been helping pregnancy centers with their marketing for 25 years. He agrees with Baker’s assessment and sees the report as a spiritual attack. “It is scary that we are being named by a group using manipulation,” he said, “but no matter what happens we want to keep serving God by serving these clinics. We are not deterred.”

Barr said iRapture crafts high-quality content for the PCCs it serves. It helps them take advantage of a grant that offers $10,000 per month of Google Ads Grant money to nonprofit organizations. He emphasized that PCCs take advantage of the grants allowing them to reach their audience who then benefits from free services.

Both marketing agencies denied they use misleading advertising, emphasizing that the CPCs they represent provide women with more options and information than abortion clinics or Planned Parenthood.

Heartbeat International, a pro-life organization that supports a network of PCCs, responded to the report stating, “Under the guise of a mission seeking to ‘counter hate and discrimination,’ CCDH’s purpose is actually to target issues they disagree with and create propaganda to bully tech companies into silencing and censoring opposing viewpoints.”

“We use internet advertising to meet women where they are at when they are seeking abortion during an unexpected pregnancy,” Human Coalition President Jeff Bradford told MinistryWatch in response to the report. He said they include a disclaimer about not offering abortion in their ads. Further, “[i]n the process of connecting with our clinics, women are provided clear information about which services we do and do not offer.”

Rev. Jim Harden is the president of CompassCare, which has several PCCs in upstate New York. He was not surprised by the report. “Generally speaking, there is a pattern of vilifying pregnancy centers using words like ‘fake clinics.’ It happens every year about this time,” he said. CompassCare was the victim of a firebombing last June.

“Crisis pregnancy centers are offering ethical and comprehensive medical care. They have never harmed or killed women. Abortionists do one thing—abortion. We represent the abortion industry’s only competition,” he said.

CompassCare uses Google Ads, and their ads include the disclaimer that they don’t provide abortions. It tries to market effectively to its demographic—women contemplating abortions—so it uses key terms that women search so CompassCare comes up in their search results.

Harden pointed out the hypocrisy in CCDH’s criticism of PCC marketing strategies. While criticizing pregnancy centers for using abortion search terms, it doesn’t take issue with online abortion provider Hey Jane using “CompassCare” as one of its search terms, according to research Harden said they had conducted.

Pro-life groups said Google has already succumbed to pressure by groups like CCDH. It has a policy about abortion providers that automatically generate an in-ad disclaimer stating: “Provides abortions” or “Does not provide abortions.”

According to Heartbeat, “In 2021, CCDH demanded that Google disallow advertising for abortion pill reversal, a safe and effective way for women who regret their chemical abortion decision to try and save their pregnancies with progesterone.”

The Abortion Pill Rescue Network claims to have saved the lives of 4,500 babies through the reversal process.

CCDH recommended in its report that “lawmakers empower the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit misleading advertising on abortion.” Harden said if the federal government gets involved in depriving the rights of pro-life organizations to express their views on Google, the new public square, then a lawsuit might be required to protect the rights of pro-life groups.

Editor’s Note: This article was published at MinistryWatch and is reprinted here with permission.

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