The internet search engine company Google has settled a lawsuit filed by the UK-based Christian Institute out of court after the company refused its draft advertisement concerning abortion law. The amicable settlement includes a policy change to permit religious groups to purchase Google advertisements for factual campaigns against abortion.
The legal action began in April after Google refused an ad which read:
“UK abortion law: Key views and news on abortion law from The Christian Institute. www.christian.org.uk.”
The non-denominational Christian group was trying to publicize its articles against abortion before a controversial vote in the House of Commons that could have placed restrictions on abortion. Google policy at the time prohibited advertisements which mixed “abortion and religion-related content.”
According to the Daily Mail, the institute has the support of former Tory MP Anne Widdecomb, a Catholic. In April she criticized Google’s policy, saying “It does seem to me to be the most appalling and blatant case of religious discrimination and also to be a very silly attempt to stifle due debate.”
Google explained its change of policy in a Tuesday statement which read:
“The issue of abortion is an emotive subject and Google does not take a particular side.
"Over the last few months we have been reviewing our abortion ads policy in order to make sure it was fair, up-to-date and consistent with local customs and practices.
"Following the review we have decided to amend our policy, creating a level playing field and enabling religious associations to place ads on abortion in a factual way."
The Christian Institute also issued a statement about the settlement.
“We are delighted to confirm that our legal proceedings against Google for blocking our abortion ad have been settled on amicable terms,” the Christian Institute said.
According to the statement, Google has reviewed its AdWords policy to enable religious associations to place ads on the topic of abortion in a “factual and campaigning way.”
“The new policy will apply world-wide with immediate effect,” the organization said. “This is an important issue of free speech and religious liberty and we are pleased with Google’s constructive response to this matter.”