Emergency Contraception: Have We Come Full Circle?

Two decades ago, Dr. Felicia Stewart, then serving as Medical Director of the Planned Parenthood affiliate in Sacramento California, began her campaign to let out of the closet "America's best-kept secret" - emergency contraception. The method had been suppressed because many providers thought the method was "not effective enough," or would lead women to use it "too much" (in place of using other more effective methods). Advocates disagreed, believing that emergency contraception could help some women prevent pregnancy, that women could learn to use the method appropriately, and that women had the right to this important option.

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

What you can do:
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