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  • Rikki Lambert

Greens to summon Google to explain abortion ad ban

Protestors outside a Marie Stopes International clinic in London, 2018

The Australian Greens will push for Google to appear before a parliamentary inquiry after the search platform put a blanket ban on ads for abortion services.

The Greens are pushing for the search giant to give evidence at a committee hearing following its decision to stop online ads from being placed by MSI Australia, the nation's biggest abortion and reproductive health services provider. 

National Director of Politics for the Australian Christian Lobby, Wendy Francis, said:

"Australia terminates the lives of around 90,000 babies in the womb annually. It appears that MSI want to increase this number through Google advertising. But they’ve hit a roadblock - advertising prescription medicine is illegal in Australia.

Mrs Francis claimed MSI spokesperson, Fiona Gerrard had estimated the Google ban on abortion drug ads in Australia would affect about 700 to 1500 people nationwide.

Greens senator Larissa Waters wrote to Google requesting an explanation and said there was no justification for its refusal to advertise MSI Australia's services:

"Restricting information about medical abortion can prevent people from understanding this option within the timeframe in which the procedure is legally available," she said in the letter.
"This can result in people who decide to terminate requiring more invasive and expensive surgical abortions."

While medical advertising laws stop prescription medicines, including abortion-inducing pills, from being promoted in Australia, medical services such as abortion clinics are allowed to promote themselves.

MSI Australia managing director Jamal Hakim said Google's ban had misinterpreted Australian law and regulations.

"Abortion is legal in Australia but it is not easily accessible. Google's ban is restricting abortion access."

The cost and accessibility of contraceptives, abortions and healthcare information across the nation will be examined by the committee, as well as medical training options for doctors and allied health nurses.

Mrs Francis said the inquiry was an opportunity to explore important issues in the wake of the US Supreme Court overturning landmark 1960s abortion law precedent, Roe v Wade:

"Abortion presents a profound moral issue and we welcomed the opportunity to highlight two areas that concern most Australians.
"(Firstly,) hundreds of viable babies have been born alive over the past decade following a late-term abortion, and left to die with no medical attention. This is barbaric and must end.
"(Secondly,) the practice of sex-selection abortion is on the rise in Australia resulting in less baby girls. Our Federal government must ensure this discriminatory practice is not funded by Medicare."


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