Democratic lawmakers on Friday urged Google to prevent its search engine from returning links to anti-abortion clinics in response to searches for phrases “abortion clinic near me” and “abortion pill.”
“We write today regarding disturbing new reports that Google has been directing users who search for abortion services towards anti-abortion ‘fake clinics,’ also known as ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ or ‘pregnancy resource centers’ without any disclaimer indicating these businesses do not provide abortions and seek to steer women away from certain health decisions,” Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) and Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-Maryland) say in a letter to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai. The letter was signed by 19 other Democratic lamakers.
The letter comes one week after the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate reported that in states with “trigger laws” -- meaning states where abortion would immediately become illegal if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade -- 11% of searches for “abortion clinic near me” and “abortion pill” returned Google search results to anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers” and fake clinics.
The lawmakers want Google to prevent those results from appearing or, failing that, label them with disclaimers.
“We urge you to take action to rectify these issues and help ensure women seeking health care services are directed to the basic information they request,” the lawmakers write.
They specifically ask Pichai how Google plans to limit results for anti-abortion fake clinics in response to searches for abortion clinics or pills or, alternatively, whether it will “add user-friendly disclaimers that clearly indicate whether or not a search result does or does not provide abortions.”