UCSB Students For Life
Last month, the Washington Post published an article entitled “Google removes ‘deceptive’ pregnancy center ads.” The article covered NARAL Pro-Choice America’s efforts to discourage what they believed to be false advertising among pro-life Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPC’s); to be specific, NARAL demanded that Google remove CPC ads they had identified to be ‘deceptive’ from their AdWords listings. According to the Post article, NARAL was concerned that CPCs seemed to “[provide] medical services such as abortions, when, in fact, they are focused on counseling services and on providing information about alternatives to abortion”1. Objectively, we can all agree deception is never a valid advertising strategy. Yet further research into NARAL’s report reveals a rather subjective analysis (one ‘misleading’ ad listed on their website simply says “Pregnant? Scared? You’re not alone” and lists a hotline number2). NARAL evidently deemed it a breach of Google’s advertising policy that “alternatives to abortion” were allowed advertising space on abortion-related search result pages. In their official press release, NARAL boasted that about two-thirds of these ‘deceptive’ ads had been removed3. Though the Post’s coverage of Google’s decision was based largely on this press release and may prove premature (a Google search of “abortion clinics” still yields CPC adverts among the top hits), the inherent one-sidedness of NARAL’s actions ought to be cause for concern. Allow us to explain.
The harmonious functioning of society is often preserved through the observance of one unwritten law: avoid controversy lest ye perish. Breaking this rule at, say, a dinner party brings serious social penalties ranging from a frosty silence to airborne mashed potatoes and flying insults. People feel strongly about their positions on divisive topics, mostly because these topics offer outlets for identity: through maintaining strong convictions, people are able to validate not only who they are but the ideal they wish to become. However, these personal philosophies often prove to be mutually exclusive, making a position of compromise between them more or less untenable for the hapless observer. For these reasons, people are far more comfortable avoiding a difficult subject altogether. Is it not better to simply ignore a problematic issue for the sake of maintaining peaceful accord? There may even be an element of fear in our decision to remain silent. One may think an issue is important and worth the trouble of debating, but a gnawing doubt persists: “What if you’re wrong?”
But what if you’re right?
Sometimes a difficult topic must be addressed because ignoring it would be far worse. Where this is the case, the truth must be sought with diligence. If either party aims to hedge the other out of the public forum, a potential avenue towards truth is forfeited. This is why our club feels NARAL’s request cannot go unaddressed. UCSB Students for Life, as the only official Pro-Life group on campus, cannot (and does not) wish to condemn NARAL for having strong beliefs and convictions; it is only fair to say that we have equally strong convictions of our own. Yet in attempting to deny fair presentation of viewpoints, NARAL has taken a step backward on the path to an answer. UCSB Students for Life has ever striven to bring the issue of life to the debate (granted, with varied success) and has openly acknowledged the presence and contentions of its opposition. With that in mind, we at UCSB SFL bring to the proverbial dinner party the all-too-controversial subject of abortion. We ask that the spuds stay grounded.
It is easy enough to see why abortion would fall into the category of “Difficult Topics Which Must Be Addressed.” Research has yet to confirm or deny the status of the fetus: human life or collection of cells? While this remains ambiguous, the ethical implications of abortion remain ambiguous and difficult to fully grasp. But as long as the debate continues unresolved, abortion will cause suffering, whether on the part of the mother or on that of the unborn child. It is therefore imperative that an answer be found, before it’s too late. Let us therefore seek wherever we may find, and fear only our silence.
We found our answer. What’s yours?
Please contact us with your thoughts at: firstname.lastname@example.org.