The Scandal Of Google Advertising And Abortion Provision

A reasonable and useful logical test is to stand an argument upon its head and then consider what is being asserted. This is not to use the logical fallacy of reductio ad absurdam, rather it is to try and examine the logical linkage between the parts of the argument. It can devolve into that other logical fallacy, tu quoque, but then all logical examination is prey to one or another of the possible logical fallacies.

The most important use of the upside down argument is to ask whether people are being consistent. Or, perhaps, being partial – partial in the sense of being heavily weighted to one side, rather than incomplete.

So, the insistence about Google and advertising upon it about abortion:

A new Google policy that was meant to rein in deceptive advertising by “crisis pregnancy centers” has a loophole that is allowing the centers to continue to post misleading ads on the search engine. Crisis pregnancy centers often seek to aggressively discourage women from getting abortions and have earned the ire of abortion rights groups for often seeming to resemble abortion clinics.

Well, around here we’re liberals. Perhaps not progressive liberals on the subject of abortion itself – I’m certainly not – but on those wider issues of free speech and all that we most definitely are. So, being able to advertise as you wish seems to us to be a fairly reasonable thing to be able to do. Others disagree of course:

The loophole means only users who are specifically searching under the term “abortion” will be provided information on Google’s website about whether a particular health care clinic does – or does not – offer the procedure to women. If a user searches under other terms, like “free pregnancy test” or “pregnancy symptoms”, no such information appears under the advertisements for the same clinics. While the difference might seem semantic, there is a worry that it will confuse women who might mistake a crisis pregnancy center for an abortion clinic.

So, the claim is this. Those who are opposed to abortion must disclose that they don’t provide them when an ad appears alongside a search for abortion. The claim then becomes that any similar sort of search, like free pregnancy test, should also come with such a disclaimer.

OK. Now for the inversion. Are those same pro-choice campaigners arguing that the clinics they approve of, when advertising, must also provide such information? Does an ad which comes up during a search for “family planning” have to include “we kill children” “we provide abortions”?

That is, are the pro-people arguing that they should be subject to exactly and precisely the same rules that they insist must be imposed upon the anti-people?

If so then they are not being partial in this instance. If not, they are.

Partiality doesn’t mean that the specific argument is right or wrong of course. Only that on matters of public policy we should look very askance at those using partial arguments.

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