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Monday, January 28, 2019

Abortion and Google, the BBC and "unbiased" advice

As New York State has now legalised abortion up to birth, many people must now be looking around for information to work out how they feel about the issues involved.

But Google may be quietly making their minds up for them:

"According to the Breitbart source, a Google software engineer started the discussion thread after learning that abortion-related search results had been manipulated. 

"The source said the manual intervention was ordered after a Slate journalist inquired about the prominence of pro-life videos on YouTube. 

"In response, pro-life videos were allegedly replaced with pro-abortion videos in the top ten results, the software engineer said, calling that change a 'smoking gun'."

And when I look for statistics on the British Pregnancy Advice Service, to see if there may be any bias in their advice to expectant mothers, on Google I find nothing.

However the tone of their chief executive, Ann Furedi, is interesting:

“The answer to unsafe abortion is not contraception, it is safe abortion. When you encourage women to use contraception, you give them the sense that they can control their fertility – but if you do not provide safe abortion services when that contraception fails you are doing them a great disservice.  Our data shows women cannot control their fertility through contraception alone, even when they are using some of the most effective methods. Family planning is contraception and abortion. Abortion is birth control that women need when their regular method lets them down.”


Furedi's background may be relevant, for although the BPAS site says "We support pregnancy choices and trust women to decide for themselves," her past history may give us some clues:

"Furedi has worked in pro-choice organizations for more than 20 years, mainly in policy and communications. She ran the press office of the UK Family Planning Association before leading Birth Control Trust, a charity that advocated the need for research and development in methods of contraception and abortion. Before joining BPAS, as its chief executive in June 2003, Furedi was Director of Policy and Communications for the UK regulator of infertility treatment and embryo research, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). She is regarded as a leading pro-choice advocate and spokesperson, often appearing in the media representing this perspective.

"Prior to her career in pro-choice organizations, Furedi was a journalist, specialising in healthcare features for women's magazines, including Cosmopolitan and Company, sometimes writing under her "maiden name", Bradley. She is also known as Ann Burton. In the early 1980s, she worked for the National Council for Civil Liberties as its Gay Rights Officer, using the name of Ann Marie Bradley.

"In 1982, she married Frank Furedi, the founder and then leader of the British Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP)."

Broadcast media may be no more help to those who want unbiased discussion - see this complaint by the pro-life organisation Life:


Years ago there was an office in the Birmingham Bull Ring for something called the Solid Fuel Advisory Service; run, of course, by the Coal Board. I assumed their advice would go something like this:

Should I have a gas fire, or a coal fire?

- Coal.

And if a woman comes to the BPAS and says, "I'm pregnant and I'm not sure what to do," what (when there's no cameras or voice recorders) will their advice be?

- And do they put it in writing?


Stewart Cowan said...

I have noticed that Google seems to be highly biased, period. Recent searches for information pertaining to scripture have brought up Mormon and J.W. sites on the first page. Like Wikipedia (in my experience as a frustrated editor), the truth must be buried, even to the extent that obvious facts are denied on the flimsy basis of what someone in a government department says, which can overrule centuries of wisdom accumulated from around the world.

Paddington said...

My wife read an autobiography of a lady who lived through the depression in the US. Every family that she knew had had a relative die of a botched illegal abortion. One estimate that I saw from a Sociologist was that the abortion rate in the 1930's was 3-4 times what it is now, largely thanks to the lack of access to contraceptives. The pro-life groups in the US are also anti-contraception, again under the banner of 'sex should have penalties' (except, of course for the staunchly anti-abortion conservative politicians, who arrange them for their girlfriends).

Sackerson said...

@P: Yes, hard choices etc. However today an unwanted pregnancy doesn't entail death through starvation, as once it well might.

Botched: have you heard of webcam abortions?

"Still being done today across the United States, webcam abortions are chemical abortions performed with no doctor on site. Non-medical staff are trained to do transvaginal ultrasounds. This invasive practice should be done by trained professionals, not entry-level staff. Upon completion of the ultrasound, the image of the unborn baby is scanned to a doctor. If the physician determines the gestational age to be 70 days or less, he pushes a button, remotely opening a small drawer containing the first drug, Mifeprex. Taken while the doctor watches via a Skype-like connection, Mifeprex blocks hormones, starving the baby of nutrition. The second set of pills, Misoprostol, will be taken two days later. The contractions begin, and the mother delivers her lifeless baby at home. Alone."

- and if there are complications (haemorrhaging etc)...

To be clear, I'm not banging the drum as though I were a pro-lifer, or a Christian, but looking to put some balance and logical consistency into a debate fogged with prejudice and deceit.

Stewart Cowan said...

That's the point I was going to make, Sackerson, about the Depression. Not that I agree with it even then.

Botched? Have look at Marie Stopes International's record on negligence. MSI is one of Britain's main abortion 'providers' and in receipt of large sums of public money to spread their love to Africa.