US lawmakers demand action from Google over ‘fake abortion clinics’

More than 20 US lawmakers have called on Google to address what they believe to be misinformation about abortion in its search engines.

Democracy representatives and senators have accused the tech giant of removing “fake abortion clinic” websites from users’ search results.

The so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” encourage women not to have abortions, instead of providing medical services and information.

The letter, published last Friday, was signed by 21 lawmakers, including Senator Mark Warner, Bernie Sanders and Elisabeth Warren.

“Directing women to fake clinics that disseminate misinformation and fail to provide comprehensive health services is dangerous to women’s health and undermines the integrity of Google’s search results,” the letter said.

“We urge you to take action to resolve these issues and ensure that women seeking healthcare are referred to the basic information they are requesting.”

The letter precedes a pivotal US Supreme Court ruling that could overturn a landmark bill legalizing abortion.

If the Roe vs Wade ruling of 1973 is overturned, 13 US states could ban abortions, and a recent report — cited by Democrats — found that search results for fake abortion clinics are especially prevalent in these “trigger” states.

The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) found that 11% of Google searches in 13 states for “abortion clinic near me” and “abortion pill” listed clinics that oppose abortion.

These states are Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

The CCDH report also found that anti-abortion clinics made up 37% of Google Maps results for abortion services in those states.

Meanwhile, 28% of Google ads featured so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” with minor disclaimers, according to the survey.

‘Google fails in its most fundamental task’

“If someone is looking for information about abortions, they may be scared, vulnerable and desperate for information about abortion services,” CCDH chief executive Imran Ahmed told Euronews.

“But they are sent to wrong centers where they are given ideological misinformation instead of quality medical services.

“Google is there to provide information when you have a question, so they fail at their most fundamental job,” he added.

Google had previously committed in 2014 to remove ads on its anti-abortion clinic platform.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve our results so people can find what they’re looking for, or understand if what they’re looking for isn’t available,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. statement to Reuters

Ahmed hoped the latest report would prompt Google to take further action.

“Google has promised to take action for the past 8 years, but has failed to do so,” he told Euronews.

“It just goes to show that it is vital to have legislation like the Digital Services Act in the EU… [with] their platforms.”

The Digital Services Act is a draft piece of EU legislation that aims to create new legislation to tackle challenges such as the sale of counterfeit products, spreading hate speech, cyber threats, restricting competition and market dominance.

Google has been contacted for further comment.