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Abortion is to adoption...

Amazon.com amends abortion search results.
 
 
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Just when it started to seem like more and more big, bad corporations are fleeing from anything even vaguely resembling a ( gasp!) progressive cause, at least one big-gun internet retailer -- Amazon.com -- has decided to do something small to make pro-choicers' lives a smidgen less annoying.

According to the New York Times, the internet monolith "last week modified its search engine after an abortion rights organization complained that search results appeared skewed toward anti-abortion books."

Why, you ask? Because, until mere days ago, "a search of Amazon's catalog of books using the word 'abortion' turned up pages with the question, 'Did you mean adoption?' at the top, followed by a list of books related to abortion."

Amazon disabled this offending "adoption?" prompt from the search results page after receiving complaints from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, which worried that the site was unfairly skewing toward the anti-abortion end of the spectrum.

More:

"Patty Smith, an Amazon spokeswoman, said the company had had no intention of offering biased search results. She said the question ;Did you mean adoption?' was an automated response based on past customer behavior combined with the site's spelling correction technology."

"She said Amazon's software suggested adoption-related sources because 'abortion' and 'adoption' have similar spellings, and because many past customers who have searched for 'abortion' have also searched for 'adoption.'

Abortion is to adoption … Whatever. I can see the spelling correlation between the two words, but it makes me a bit uneasy that "customers…are still offered 'adoption' as a possibility in the Related Searches line at the top of an 'abortion' search results page," while the reverse isn't true.

Curious, I did my own search on Amazon. I dutifully looked up "abortion" and nothing related to adoption came up. Not even in the "Related Searches" line!

What did come up? "Related Searches: if these walls could talk, pro-choice, pro-life;" and the first two books listed were "The Ethics of Abortion: Pro-Life Vs. Pro-Choice" by Robert M. Baird and Stuart E. Rosenbaum; and the decidedly anti-abortion "Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments" by Randy Alcorn.

Apparently, Amazon still hasn't managed to fix the problem that there are still more men writing books about the abortion debate -- and women's reproductive choices -- than there are women. Hmph.

Laura Barcella is AlterNet's front page editor.