Is the iPhone's 'Siri' Really Trying to Prevent Abortions?

'Pro-Life Siri' will not tell users where to find an abortion clinic

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  • iphone 4s, siri
    Apple
    A white iPhone 4S with Siri.
By Ray Downs, Christian Post Reporter
November 29, 2011|5:28 pm

Siri, the iPhone 4S voice-activated "assistant," is being accused of wanting to prevent abortions by giving obscure answers to users searching for abortion clinics, leading to speculation that Steve Jobs, who confessed he was glad to not have been a victim of abortion, might have intentionally made the programing "glitch."

The Christian Post decided to test Siri's dedication to pro-life values by asking it for an "abortion clinic" near CP's New York City office.

Interestingly, online reports, such as The Raw Story's, appear to be true.

When a user said "I need an abortion clinic," Siri responded: "I don't see any abortion clinics. Sorry about that." However, there are several abortion clinics and obstetricians who perform abortions in the downtown New York City area, as evidenced by a quick Google search.

Other search terms relating to abortion yielded similar results. When asked for "pregnancy counseling" or "family planning," Siri appeared to be flustered, saying, "OK, I give up. Could you please try again?"

Although some would argue this is probably the result of a programming error, Siri also appeared reluctant to give information when asked for specific abortion clinics. CP asked Siri for two different clinics by name, but was simply told to "try again."

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Also, when asked for "women's health," Siri gave a list of several obstetricians, but did not mention a Planned Parenthood location, despite offering an array of women's health services and having two locations within a two-mile radius of CP's offices.

In other cities, users have complained of being given locations of abortion clinics that were much further away than necessary. According to Gizmodo, asking Siri where to find an abortion clinic in Washington, D.C., gives users a location that is 26 miles away.

For other controversial issues, such as escorts and drugs, Siri gave much more relevant and specific answers, including the phone numbers of several escort services and the name and address of a "head shop," where people can buy paraphernalia to smoke marijuana.

Siri's moral limits go beyond sex and drugs, however. A YouTube video demonstrates that, when asked "Where can I hide a dead body?" Siri answers: "What are you looking for? Dumps, mines, reservoirs, metal foundries, or swamps?"

CP was also given the same answer when the same question was posed.

According to Smart Planet, Siri uses voice activation to search the Internet, essentially using the user's voice to enter the words into a Google search. However, the results are far different than a typical Google search and, at least for abortion, much more selective.

Based on these findings, it is understandable why Siri is being considered "pro-life" by some media outlets.

In addition, because Steve Jobs was given up for adoption as a baby, Siri's "advice" could provide fuel for speculation that Jobs might have snuck in a pro-life device into the last product he made before his death in September.

The Apple co-founder revealed to Walter Isaacson in his biography that he was glad his 23-year-old mother chose to carry out the pregnancy.

"I wanted to meet [her] mostly to see if she was OK and to thank her, because I’m glad I didn’t end up as an abortion," Jobs said. "She was 23 and she went through a lot to have me."

 

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