In an unusual policy turnaround, Google will permit religious groups to buy its advertising space to promote their views on abortion.

The search and advertising giant made the U-turn after the UK-based Christian Institute sued Google over its refusal to sell it ads based on 'abortion' as a keyword.

That decision came in spite of Google accepting advertising for abortion-related medical and educational services.

Discriminatory practice

Hence, the Institute case claimed religious discrimination, prompting Google to settle out of court last week and reverse its ban, which it had implemented to avoid having to serve highly charged pro- or anti-abortion advertising.

The company will now sell ads based on the controversial keyword, but is reserving the right to insist that advertising sticks to facts and not rhetoric.