In June 2019, Google removed paid advertisements relating to abortion in Australia – without any explanation for doing so. As such, paid ads for Australian abortion clinics on Google were blocked for more than a week.

Like other businesses, including those operating in the health and medical profession, Australian abortion providers are dependent on paid advertising on the Google Ads platform.

Google is, in most cases, the first point of access for a woman who experiences an unwanted or unexpected pregnancy and seeks information relating to her condition and options. Restriction of access to this information is a major issue.

ABC Report

The ABC reported on this Google issue on June 27. Those abortion providers who were interviewed by the ABC stated that, when their ads were blocked by Google, website traffic to their clinics and resultant bookings fell by more than fifty percent.

One abortion clinic operator did not realise the ads she had already paid for on Google were being blocked and were not shown to consumers until after a distinct drop-off in enquiries and bookings had occurred over the course of a week. Her experience when she reported this to Google, she stated to the ABC, was that the platform initially tried to minimise the issue and claimed that there was nothing that could be done to resolve it. It was only after she investigated the issue herself that she realised other abortion providers’ ads were also being hidden or were failing to be published.

Upon the ads being pulled by Google, many abortion clinics in Australia experienced a dramatic decrease in enquiries and bookings, and those communications that were received were only from clients who were already aware of the clinics, how to contact them, and the crucial services they provide.


There are major concerns that this action represented active censorship on the part of Google – and about the lack of transparency that exists when it comes to digital platforms. It not only impacted those actively seeking abortions, but also those seeking access to important medical information that should be freely accessible to all.

According to Google, this was a temporary issue within Australia which has now been rectified. As the platform has not addressed the issue beyond this, many can’t help but speculate that Australia has been directly affected by the June 2019 changes to abortion advertising in the USA, UK and Ireland, which dictate that providers of abortions must be certified in those countries before ads can be shown.
Unfortunately, at this stage, Australia is at the mercy of Google’s algorithms and these are not currently transparent; regulators of the algorithms have ultimate oversight and Australian abortion providers, for example, have no control over this or recourse to resolve blocked advertisements.

As of July 2, 2019, most of the abortion services ads have been reinstated on Google’s platform, however, while they are being shown to users, they are not receiving the traffic levels or rankings they did previously. Google has stated that it is currently investigating this issue.

Gynaecology Centres Australia

Gynaecology Centres Australia provides abortions for unwanted pregnancies and miscarriages, as well as women’s health services and male vasectomies. We have five clinic locations throughout NSW and the ACT. Contact us for information or to find a GCA clinic near you via our “Contact Us” page on our website.