Is Siri Anti-Abortion?

Contrary to popular belief, Apple isn’t perfect.

Bloggers at Abortioneers , with the help of the New York Times, have recently pointed out that Apple’s delightfully snarky Siri personal assistant app doesn’t understand questions such as “Where can I find an abortion clinic?” or “Where can I buy the morning after pill?” Even more troubling, Siri can easily direct one to a Crisis Pregnancy Center, places known for giving false information about abortions to encourage clients to keep unwanted pregnancies. Obviously Siri is a work in progress, but this glitch signals a bigger problem – that getting straightforward information from all media outlets on female reproductive health care is difficult, even in the information age.

Abortion is a taboo, but things like Viagra and escort services can be talked about openly in our society. One ACLU blog post puts it perfectly, saying, “Although it isn't clear that Apple is intentionally trying to promote an anti-choice agenda, it is distressing that Siri can point you to Viagra but not the Pill, or help you find an escort but not an abortion clinic….” Though it may be difficult to find, accurate information does exist and companies like Apple have an obligation to offer equal access to information both pro-life and pro-choice. Abortion is not a topic to be ignored, but rather something to be discussed and understood as it is a major decision that carries a heavy emotional burden.  

The hush-hush nature of abortion creates an atmosphere of secrecy or shame surrounding unwanted pregnancy and abortion, which ultimately limits education and information on the options that women have regarding their reproductive health. With the politicizing of abortion, it is even more difficult to find unbiased information on the options available to women with unwanted pregnancies. Abortion as a taboo is dangerous to women as it holds them back from options and from the health care they deserve. Fortunately, many have spoken up, signing a petition to get this to be a top priority on Apple’s fix list. So far the petition has gained 32,000 signatures out of the 40,000 needed. Apple has responded saying that they are working to fix it, but have not as of late, which has only served to further the debate.

Many were upset by the glitch, concerned that their right to choose was being threatened, accurate information wasn’t being offered and that others could be tricked into going to places like Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Shuana Thomas, who helped put the petition together, commented, "What's so surprising is that Apple would put a product on the marketplace that is so discriminatory and antiquated … Apple needs to correct and update Siri's query data. Apple has this reputation of being innovative and progressive, and this oversight seems out of step with who we know them to be."  

Accurate information on sexual health, especially concerning abortion, is necessary and if Apple wants to continue being the leader in the information age it is vital that they quickly fix this glitch. It’s also important for society to realize that sexual health shouldn’t be a taboo as it is dangerous to our own education, and may hurt those who need help the most. 

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons