Siri was perhaps the most buzzed about part of the most recent iPhone release, but users say that the built-in digital personal assistant doesn’t want to help out when asked about abortion services.
Somewhat more disturbingly, however, is that Siri seems to skim over local abortion providers in favor of what are known as Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs.) The “abortion alternatives” organizations are a well-known nuisance to organizations like Planned Parenthood, next to whom they often set up shop and offer free pregnancy tests to walk-ins and urge women not to abort when confronted with an unintended or unwanted pregnancy. The centers have been criticized often for attempting to hold sway over a woman’s decision to terminate a pregnancy and influence her with promises of easy-to-arrange adoptions and assistance in raising a child, often offering up ultrasounds and dated medical advice to prevent women from seeking and obtaining the procedure.
According to PC Mag, it has been reported that Siri has directed users to CPCs in Virginia and Pennsylvania, when abortion clinics exist within the search area of Washington DC. Users in New York report a response of “I didn’t find any abortion clinics” despite the presence of several clinics of the type within the five boroughs. (I would posit this could be down to clinics being termed “women’s services” or something similar and avoiding the word “abortion” in the name.)
A rep for Apple commented to on the confusion, and denied any intent to bury Siri search results for abortion providers:
“Our customers want to use Siri to find out all types of information and while it can find a lot, it doesn’t always find what you want. These are not intentional omissions meant to offend anyone, it simply means that as we bring Siri from beta to a final product, we find places where we can do better and we will in the coming weeks.”