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.