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Google will crack down on deceptive anti-abortion ads

Google is planning to crack down on misleading advertisements from anti-abortion groups that present themselves as abortion providers. The change in ad policies comes after a report revealed Google had given more than $150,000 in free advertising to an anti-abortion group. 

Under the new rules, which are set to roll out in June, advertisers who want to run ads using keywords related to getting an abortion will have to submit an application making clear whether they actually provide abortions. The applications will be reviewed, and advertisers will receive a certification as either a provider or a non-provider. Google will then automatically generate disclosures for the ads reading either "provides abortions" or "does not provide abortions."

The rules will apply to advertisers in the U.S., United Kingdom and Ireland.

The Guardian reported earlier this month that Google had given two advertising grants, totaling more than $150,000, to the Obria Group, a network of anti-abortion clinics funded by Catholic organizations. The Google grants are intended to help promote non-profits.

Obria's clinics fit the description of so-called "pregnancy crisis centers" and "pregnancy resource centers." These clinics often offer medical treatments like pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, but they do not provide abortions and they try to convince women not to get them.

Promotional materials for these clinics often do not explicitly state that they oppose abortions and do not provide them. The website for Obria, for example, says its clinics "provide an alternative healthcare model to break the relationship our patients currently have with the large abortion clinics by offering women compassionate, holistic, life-affirming healthcare." 

Crisis pregnancy centers have sprouted up across the country while some states are scaling back abortion rights. Missouri, which is expected to soon begin a ban on most abortions after the eighth week of pregnancy, has 104 "pregnancy resource centers" and only one abortion clinic.

Google's changes for abortion ads come as several states, including Alabama and Georgia, have passed highly restrictive abortion laws, which abortion rights groups believe have been engineered to set up a Supreme Court battle to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

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