San Francisco Would Censor Internet to Attack Pregnancy Centers

Opinion   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 5, 2011   |   10:51AM   |   San Francisco, CA

The city of San Francisco has launched an aggressive two-pronged attack on pregnancy centers there that help women find abortion alternatives — both a law going after the centers and a lawsuit falsely accusing them of engaging in misleading advertising.

Matt Bowman of the Alliance Defense Fund, today tackles the second part of the attack — which would have San Francisco essentially censoring the Internet in order to get its way and prevent pregnancy centers from purchasing keyword advertising using the word abortion.

From Bowman’s op-ed in the Washington Examiner:

Every September, my library—and probably yours—celebrates “Banned Books Week,” during which liberals croon about their dedication to free speech.

But America’s most “liberal” cities have recently piled up their own bonfires for speech: when pro-life advocates are speaking to women about abortion.

This week, San Francisco claimed that it could punish pro-life centers that offer real help to women because a Google search for the term “abortion” yields pro-life centers in the results.

San Francisco is working with the National Abortion Rights Action League, whose ill-fated attacks on pro-life speech have resulted in three federal court injunctions this year alone.

I thought liberals were supposed to be technologically savvy, but apparently when San Francisco and NARAL ventured onto the Interwebs, they didn’t learn how a search works.

Ads in printed Yellow Pages directories (do those exist anymore?) are personally placed in categories that only list providers of that service, like “restaurants.”

So it makes sense that abortionists can’t be listed under “abortion alternatives,” nor pro-life centers under “abortion providers.”

But Google is not like your grandfather’s old Yellow Pages. Google is more akin to the library.

The Internet contains everything, so a search, without quotation marks, for “abortion in San Francisco” is not like flipping to a printed directory of abortion providers.

The person searching might want to explore local laws or public discussions about abortion, prominent abortion providers or pro-life leaders in the Bay Area, the history of clashes between Operation Rescue and B.A.C.A.O.R., or even facts about abortion itself.

The term “abortion” should produce websites from both pro-life and pro-abortion viewpoints. That’s what free speech means.

Yet San Francisco and NARAL want to define it as “deceptive” and punishable if pro-life sources turn up in a search for “abortion.” This is no different than banning all pro-life books from the library if they mention abortion. In such a “liberal” mindset, only one side can talk freely about abortion; the rest get fined.

Read more at the Washington Examiner.

ACTION: Contact the San Francisco Board of Supervisors at and urge opposition tot he proposal to target pregnancy centers. Contact Hererra at