Google optimizes searches for abortion providers following political pressure

by sam

Samuel Case, FISM News


Google is updating its search engine to exclude crisis pregnancy centers from search results for abortion clinics following pressure from pro-abortion politicians to better distinguish between pregnancy centers and abortion clinics.

Mark Isakowitz, Google’s vice president of U.S. and Canada Government Affairs and Public Policy explained the policy in a letter responding to questions from Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.). 

We continue to update our Local Search services for local health-related queries, including those related to abortion services, to improve the accuracy and relevance. When someone in the U.S. searches for health care providers that provide abortions — for example, using the query ‘abortion clinics near me’ — the Local Search results box will display facilities that have been verified to provide abortions.

In June, Warner and Slotkin wrote a letter to Alphabet CEO, Sundar Pichai, “urging him to take action to prevent misleading Google search results and ads that lead to anti-abortion clinics,” and inquiring how Google will optimize its engine for searches such as “abortion clinic” and “abortion pill.”

The letter was signed by several other democratic lawmakers, including Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who has called for crisis pregnancy centers to be shut down “all around the country.”

Google’s updated policy will also apply to other medical searches, such as for veterans hospitals, according to CNBC

“We’re now rolling out an update that makes it easier for people to find places that offer the services they’ve searched for, or broaden their results to see more options,” Google spokeswoman Lara Levin said.

According to Isakowtiz, users will be able to see a broader range of search results if they wish, but locations will be flagged as to whether or not they provide abortions. 

Warner released a statement praising the new policy while deriding crisis pregnancy centers as “fake clinics.”

I welcome the changes that Google has announced today so that women seeking abortion services aren’t directed towards fake clinics that traffic in misinformation and don’t provide comprehensive health services.

Despite Warner’s claim that crisis pregnancy centers are “fake clinics,” a 2020 report from the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute, shows these centers offer a number of medical and practical assistance including, “ultrasounds, medical exams, STI/STD testing and treatment services, well-woman exams, fertility awareness-based education, prenatal care, lactation/breastfeeding consultations, and more.”

Pro-life organization Live Action News portrayed Google’s decision as an “effort to steer women away from pregnancy centers” and that their “primary aim [was] to ensure that women see abortion as their only answer.”

Google’s update comes as Yelp has begun flagging crisis pregnancy centers with consumer notices that say these organizations “provide limited medical services and may not have licensed medical professionals onsite.”

The news comes as crisis pregnancy centers have suffered a spike in violence and vandalism since the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and return abortion decisions to states earlier this summer.