Pro-Life groups and media outlets are reporting on the suspicious removal of a Pro-Life app from the App Store. According to a statement from the Pro-Life group Human Coalition, Apple removed the group’s application in July of this year, citing “violations of certain functionality requirements.” The removal came after anti-Life activists ridiculed the Human Coalition app, and Pro-Lifers fear Apple’s decision may be based on censorship of Pro-Life views, similar to that seen on other tech platforms.
The Human Coalition app, first released in 2013, gives users the opportunity to pray for Human Coalition’s abortion-vulnerable clients. The clients remain anonymous and the app updates in real time. Since 2013, the app has been substantially updated and has received positive reviews. The app is still available on the Google Play Store with a 4.5-star rating. One reviewer wrote, “I find it very encouraging and uplifting to say a little prayer for each story I read about as I use the app.” Another added, “What a great way to pray specifically for women making this life and death decision.”
In June of 2017, anti-Life pundits discovered the Human Coalition app and wrote scathing responses, published in Slate and The New Statesman. Christina Cauteruccia claimed the app was “either a discomfiting invasion of privacy or a gigantic lie.” Mystified by Pro-Lifers praying for abortion-vulnerable woman, Amelia Tait asked, “Are digital anti-abortion prayers sanctioned by the church? Do they reach God? Though these questions may seem faintly ridiculous, their answers seem more important than ever.”
Shortly after these scathing commentary pieces and negative reviews and complaints from anti-Lifers, Apple removed the Human Coalition app from the App Store. Despite continued positive reviews from people actually interested in using the app and continued downloads, Apple claimed the app did not meet functionality requirements. In a statement the group said,
Human Coalition spoke with Apple and demonstrated that not only were the cited requirements met, but that the Human Coalition app exceeded minimum requirements and functioned better than similar apps from other developers. Apple was unable or unwilling to identify a specific improvement that, if completed, would merit the Human Coalition app’s reinstatement in the App Store.
In the digital age, Pro-Life groups are increasingly connecting people through technology like apps, as the 40 Days for Life campaign has this fall. The suspicious removal of a high profile Pro-Life app without recourse or adequate explanation by one of the largest tech companies in the nation is a troubling sign for Pro-Lifers. As Human Coalition noted, “Censorship of pro-life voices is a growing trend in the United States. Pro-abortion media, for their part, have demonstrated time and again their willingness to reinforce bogus and false narratives about pro-life Americans, going so far as to try to bully pro-life voices into silence.”
If tech giants cave to anti-Life pressure, Pro-Lifers will not be able to compete online and the Pro-Life message will be effectively silenced. Recently, Twitter’s attempt to censor a Pro-Life message was met with such backlash that the company rightly reversed the decision. With the continued media attention on the unjust removal of Human Coalition’s prayer app, Pro-Lifers may convince Apple to reverse the decision.