Siri Stumbles Over Abortion Questions [Updated]

Siri is being accused of having an antiabortion agenda — at least in New York City and Washington, D.C.. When asked where to get an abortion, the beta personal assistant only produces results for pro-life centres or tells users that it has no knowledge of abortion clinics.

Megan Carpentier, executive editor of The Raw Story, reports that Siri users in the Washington area are directed toward antiabortion pregnancy centers in Virginia and Pennsylvania instead of the nearby Planned Parenthood. Ask in New York City, and Siri will respond: “I didn’t find any abortion clinics.”

The Raw Story also reports that when a reader asked, “Why are you anti-abortion, Siri?” the app answered, “I just am.” There is no corresponding screenshot to substantiate this claim.

So far, Apple hasn’t responded to media inquires, so it’s unknown if it’s just a technical glitch or a deliberate omission on Apple’s part.

Norman Winarsky, one of the founders of Siri, told the New York Times that Apple is likely not to blame. “Those answers would be coming from the Web services that Siri is connecting to, not necessarily Apple,” he said. Having said that, Winarsky was quick to point out that he had no knowledge of what modifications Apple might have made to Siri after acquiring it in 2010.

In Canada, Siri is unable to perform geography-based searches, so I’m unable to duplicate results.

Update: The NYT has received a response from Apple. Quoting from the source:

The company attributed the problem to kinks in the product that are still being ironed out. Siri is officially still a beta or test product.

“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,” said Natalie Kerris, a spokeswoman for Apple, in a phone interview late Wednesday. “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.”

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of iPhoneinCanada.ca. Follow me on Twitter, and @iPhoneinCanada, and on Google+.

  • Anonymous

    LOL. Of course people would bitch about this. There will probably be lawsuits, the American way!

  • Anonymous

    Not just the American way. Seems to be a global epidemic.

  • Auto Strada

    I asked where the nearest church is and it can’t find any in canada. IM SUING TOO!

    LOL 😛

  • Anonymous

    If Siri just doesn’t know the answer and interprets that you are asking it a personal question rather than a web search then it probably has predetermined answers such as “I just am”

    But I’m sure Apple will be fixing this and adding a line of code to Siri that will just result in a “I am unable to find any (your request here)” whenever it comes across the word abortion and related terms

  • Anonymous

    The 1% is coming after Apple!!

  • #OCCUPYSIRI

  • Gary wins, with an assist by Draz!

  • What the heck would a screen cap prove anyways.. Let me go generate one for you.

  • Anonymous

    LOL take down the virtual assistant. 

  • There’s already an App for that.

  • Anonymous

    i got hte “I just am” remark when i asked why she’s so racist….i doubt apple had an agenda for that….people need to grow the f*** up seriously…..

  • Effelle

    I asked SIRI who Steve Jobs was and got a pretty good mini-biography, as expected. I then asked “who is Bill Gates” and could not get a proper answer no matter how I worded it. SIRI kept telling me she couldn’t find Bill Gates in my contacts. Did I mean Bill P…? She never once offered to search on the Internet. I guess Bill Gates is not in her data banks lol!