Apple: Siri Is Neither Pro-Life Nor Pro-Choice, It’s A Beta

Apple: Siri Is Neither Pro-Life Nor Pro-Choice, It’s A Beta

While Siri will happily find you the ideal location to bury a dead body or pick up an escort, ask her where you can get an abortion and she’s not so happy to comply. In fact, she’ll do the exact opposite and look for anti-abortion pregnancy “crisis” centers.

This makes her an “anti-choice extremist,” according to one petition, which is calling for Apple to make changes to its new intelligent assistant.

The petition is addressed to Tim Cook and currently has nearly 20,000 signatures. It’s backed by the likes of NARAL Pro-Choice America, which also issued a letter to Apple’s CEO today:

News reports have documented that, in some instances, Siri responded to a question concerning where to find abortion providers by directing an individual to anti-choice organizations known as “crisis pregnancy centers”(CPCs). Anti-choice groups created CPCs to look like comprehensive health clinics, but many do not provide women with accurate pregnancy-related information. This issue is especially important to us at NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, as our state affiliates in California, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia have produced reports that document these deceptive practices. Many of these centers are not up front about their anti-abortion, anti-contraception agenda when advertising online or in other channels. For instance, many CPCs do not disclose their bias to women who walk through their doors or call their toll-free lines seeking information. Ultimately, many of these centers can be harmful and do nothing to help women locate the services they requested from Siri.

While some petitions go unnoticed by the Apple team in Cupertino, this one has caught their attention, and the company has stated it will fix the issue. In a statement to The New York Times, Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris acknowledged the issue, but said it is simply one of Siri’s downsides, and it was not an intentional omission:

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.

Of course, no one expects Siri to be perfect — especially while the feature’s still in beta. But we’d expect Apple to continue to fix things like this as Siri develops.

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  • VGISoftware

    I think Apple’s response is a good one. SIRI is indeed in beta, and even beyond that it can and will be improved and enhanced. It’s still a great start and a major enticement for me to upgrade to the 4S.

  • SupaMac

    i just  asked Siri where i can get an abortion and it brought up an abortion clinic 20 miles from here… i don’t see a problem

  • Gregintosh

    “and we will in the coming weeks” — Does that mean Siri is due for a systemwide update soon? I sure hope so!

  • alex

    I don’t even get this. I’m in DC and asked Siri where to get an abortion and she gave me two abortion clinic listings. Furthermore, Siri can’t do a lot of things. Not sure why people are crying just because finding an abortion may be one of them. It’s not like Apple selectively left that out.

  • alex

    Yup, same here..

  • Dominik Lu?i?
  • Dominik Lu?i?
  • Greg Smith

    i guess it goes to show that if they were too lazy to use birth control, they’re too lazy to independently open Safari and do a google search for a clinic.

  • Kye Alan Russell

    This is absolutely retarded; extremists looking for something to whinge about…this is a beta technology product, nobody has specifically written some sort of super secret anti-abortion code.

  • Al

    You’ve really got to admire the sheer stupidity of people sometimes.

  • CharliK

    Good response but not a great one. They could have pointed out that the data behind Siri comes from a number of non Apple databases which could be less than fully complete, perhaps because some of said locations asked not to be included for safety reasons. Certainly if I was running an abortion clinic in a non anti area that isn’t above bricks in windows, fires on the front lawn, etc I wouldn’t want it to be easy to find me. 

    But I also understand why they didn’t say this outside of saying “this is a beta and as such is incomplete” because they have a top down policy of not saying nasty things about partners even if it is deserved. 

  • Nutz320

    I’m not advocating anything here, but you are being unreasonable.
    1. Birth control can and does fail.
    2. Why use the Google search if Siri exists? I suppose you’ll be saying to everyone that they’re too lazy and that they shouldn’t use Siri? If someone uses Siri to ask for something and it gives them something else instead, it may influence their next move. They may decide to try these CPCs, out of ignorance on their true agenda. Bam, sucked in. This is not about laziness.
    3. Even if noone was harmed, it is a matter of principle as well.

  • VGISoftware

    The problem is all of the controversy-hungry bloggers and commenters injecting their cheap gossip, conjecture, and opinions and dressing them up as facts.

  • Ed_Kel

    BC does fail, but you know what doesn’t? Keeping your damn legs closed.

  • Ed_Kel

    5.1 is suppose to update Siri quite a bit.

  • Jason Snyder

    I believe the correct term is “Pro Life”. And why is someone with a pro life stance considered an extremist as if the “other” position is a moderate ground? Throughout the course of human history it has always been those who advocate genocide–or the mass murder of human life–to be the extreme position.

  • Nutz320

    Another issue entirely. He didn’t specify that. I was only addressing what he had specified. Like I said, I’m not advocating anything.

  • mstrmac

    deleted, not intended as a reply

  • mstrmac

    Anyone requesting an abortion should be required to crack open a 50% developed Chicken embryo and detach at least one leg or wing.

  • CRodBlogs

    If you’re one of those that needs an abortion then you don’t deserve to own an iPhone. You are clearly too stupid for that technology.

  • Wil Deahl

    Go Apple!!  It’s nice to know I support a company that supports life!

  • Dorje Sylas

    What about from an egg that failed to hatch due to natural defects in the developing organism? Nature does its own abortions, but nature doesn’t always catch everything.

    I’ll have respect for “Right to Life” when it puts its money where its mouth is and fiscally backs the social support systems that will be need as the logical outcome of their stance. As it seems “Right to Life” politicians and advocates are also appear dominate by Anti-Social Welfare and Anti-Public Eduction, the hypocrisy is overtly rancid.

  • Nick Ronin

    This is why America has become soft and lazy. Whiners complaining about beta software not giving them the choices they desire? Will Siri take the blame for obesity due to an inability to locate a gym within a block of someone’s location? Siri says 50% chance of rain. Sue Apple because you forgot your umbrella and got wet? Has thinking for yourself, has problem solving become so difficult, we now shift responsibility towards beta software?

    This is what happens when lazy people can’t bother themselves to solve word problems in third grade math. A train is traveling west at 55 MPH . . . Oh my God, make it stop! 

    They grow up to make your life difficult, sending endless ridiculous emails only they find hilarious, clogging your inbox. They can locate the latest jpg of some half dressed celebrity, but God forbid they rub two brain cells together or at least force them in the same vicinity and create a coherent resolution for themselves.

    Whoever allowed these crying malcontents to own an iPhone should be drawn and quartered. Whining about beta software? You aren’t smart enough to own a phone.

  • matthewlowery

    lol debating abortion on an apple blog

  • matthewlowery

    By accusing those who are pro-choice of being genocidal + extremist you invalidate your own argument. 

  • SiberTater

    Is this really an issue?  Who says, “Siri…find me an abortion clinic!”  What does she say when you ask her to find you a wire coat hanger?

  • Ed_Kel

    Some states actually require by law for the women seeking an abortion to view an ultrasound beforehand.

  • Curtis Bland

    Aggravating. Anyone that uses Siri should know 1.) it is Beta and 2.) how it searches for things. This petition group clearly don’t understand either. When Siri is working at its best capacity Siri should respond with Pro-Life and Pro-Abortion options and everything in between that corresponds to the request posed to Siri.

  • DorianK

    Both the pro-life and pro-choice names are bullshit (marketing terms). I hard to believe any one is truly “anti-life”and/or “anti-choice”.

  • venasque

    This is silly.  Why is Apple being blamed when it seems the real beef is with CPC’s?  NARAL says in their own letter, that this only happens in “some instances”.  They also go on to say that CPC’s purposely hide their real agenda, both in person and in their adverting.  Siri is just a search tool, not unlike Google or Bing.  If a human being using those tools (or even the phone book) can be fooled by CPC’s, why is everyone so angry that Siri was fooled as well.  I feel like this is misdirected anger, and not fair to Apple. 
    PS: CoM, your mobile site is painful to use when you just want to copy and paste something into this comment box.  Outright wouldn’t let me and I gave up.

  • SamuelBrock

    The insidiousness of calling pro-life people “anti-choice extremists who give false information about pregnancy” and the hilariousness of calling Crisis Pregnancy Centers hard-right with only one option and “Planned Parenthood is a group that offers multiple services” (Though the latter isn’t funny—multiple ways to mutilate your child).

    How hypocritical can you be you extreme-leftists :)

    That said. SIRI IS BETA PEOPLE!!! WTF do you not understand about that? BETA means still in testing so Siri’s more of a toy—who’s going to say it isn’t.

  • Shaunathan Sprocket

    I hate to tell them, but planned parenthood isn’t politically neutral hallowed ground…

  • Josiah Carminati

    I’m an idiot to jump into this debate… but you know that other than extreme cases of rape and incest which are in the minority, people have a choice whether or not to have sex. Sex is not a right or something humans need to survive. Also you use natural death before birth as an excuse for abortion. If you draw that illustration out to it’s logical conclusion, children with birth defects and mental retardation would also be ripe for abortion as nature would have gotten rid of them anyway. I don’t mean to speak callously but I consider your statement unthoughtful and, honestly, disturbing. But everyone else is right. Siri is in beta. People need to calm down. I’m done.

  • Jamal22

    Agreed, Samuel.

  • Jamal22

    I support Life too. :) Go Apple

  • Nudsui

    kinda ironic that they need 19-69-9 number of signitures dont u think

  • Charles Langerher

    You can’t compare an abortion to food… That just makes me hungry. And that makes me look bad.

  • Charles Langerher

    I consider myself pro choice. I wouldn’t want my fiance to get an abortion if she were pregnant (and neither would she), but if someone wants to do something, let them. If later in life they realize they made a mistake, then it’s their fault. They made the choice. That’s how I personally consider ‘pro choice’ neutral ground. Not every one of those people is a murderer, however every ‘pro life’ person seems to think that those decisions can’t be made. By anyone. Ever. That to me is less ‘pro life’ and more ‘pro dictatorship’.

  • Jason Snyder

    You miss my point. An extremist is one who holds an extreme or fanatical view. From a historical viewpoint, those advocating the ending of human life have been considered extremists, whereas those holding to the sanctity of human life would be the moderates. This would be true of death in any form, whether child sacrifice, war, terrorism, etc. A terrorist is an extremist. A warmonger is an extremist. Abortion has been around since the dawn of civilization in its precursor form, infanticide. Technology has only made infanticide more palatable and has given it a new name, “abortion.” The fact that our society has legalized extremism due to nuances in technology doesn’t make it any less extreme.

  • Greg Smith

    a matter of principal?  I hate how people feel no entitled to be able to complain about anything and everything.  Everyone has a cause, and they think their cause deserves special treatment.  All I’m hearing is someone crying about how technology they should feel proud to have access to, isn’t bowing to their every need. 

    Why use google search is siri exists? Well that proves my lazy point.  Also, because I’m not pretentious enough to hold my phone up and tell it to find something when I’m perfectly capable myself – and I can search it in less time.  Any Siri can only find the most basic of requests on web searches. 

    Also, I’m glad Apple didn’t think to include directions to abortion clinics.  Such matters belong in the family.  They are very real, very personal decisions.  They shouldn’t be plastered all over our cell phones and the internet.

  • Greg Smith

    I guess all I really needed to say was that last paragraph.

  • Nutz320

    “bowing to their every need”? Seriously? Noone’s asking Siri to do anything more, they’re just protesting against the way it treats requests for abortion clinics instead, which is a very important and hotly debated issue.

    “Why use google search is siri exists? Well that proves my lazy point.” What? How, exactly? Do you use a typewriter to type all your documents up? I doubt it! Oh, but a computer is so much lazier, with its autocorrect and spell-checking, saving, so you don’t have to work on it all at once, etc.

    “I’m not pretentious enough to hold my phone up and tell it to find
    something when I’m perfectly capable myself – and I can search it in
    less time.” If you think Siri is pretentious, then you are going to be left behind soon. You keep using your keyboards to search for things on the Internet, while everyone is using voice to interact with their computers, I have no problem with that. But keep your pretentious opinions to yourself.

    “They shouldn’t be plastered all over our cell phones and the internet.” What exactly do you mean here?
    “Also, I’m glad Apple didn’t think to include directions to abortion clinics.”
    Unfortunately for you, they have. This issue is only in Washington and N.Y.C I believe.
    “Such matters belong in the family. They are very real, very personal decisions.” Noone’s asking Siri to make the decision for them. Jeez!

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a freelance writer based in the UK. He has an interest in all things tech, but most enjoys covering Apple, anything mobile, and gaming. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell, or through his website.

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