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No Need to Boycott Google

Question:

Google allows abortion clinics in Spain to advertise through its platform. Do we need to stop using Google services as long as it allows such advertisements?

Answer:

Running ads for abortion clinics is never a good thing. That said, you’re not morally obligated to boycott Google’s search engines, because you are not formally cooperating with its immoral action. That is, you don’t share its immoral intention in running the ad, nor are you directly participating in the moral evil by, for instance, promoting this ad to Google clients as a salesperson.

In addition, you are not providing proximate material cooperation in this venture. That is, your use of Google’s search engine doesn’t proximately make possible this action, as a person would who does maintenance for Google’s search engine so that various Google ads can run.

Rather, you provide remote material cooperation, as you are one of hundreds of millions or even billions of persons who take advantage of Google’s search engine. In addition, you’re using Google’s technology for good purposes, not bad ones.

Furthermore, what are your Internet alternatives? What Internet search engine can’t be used to search out an abortion provider or to engage in directly or facilitate some type of serious moral evil?

Proximate material cooperation can be legitimate, such as when a trucker for a grocery chain brings overwhelmingly good products to company stores but also transports a few morally objectionable ones, such as condoms. As disappointing as it is that his company sells such products, the trucker would not be morally obligated to quit his job and jeopardize his and his family’s welfare. It would be different if he were transporting only abortion machines or abortifacient contraceptives, for example.

The same argument could made for the Google search-engine maintenance worker, given that most Google ads don’t involve intrinsic moral evils such as providing abortions.

For more information on the Church’s perspective on formal and material cooperation, see these two articles by Jimmy Akin.

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