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Google announces that it will place a disclosure label on health clinics that do and do not provide abortions

Google announced an update to its features regarding abortion-related inquiries and advertising on Thursday. In July, Democrat Virginia Sen. Mark Warner and Democrat Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin wrote Google requesting that it “improve their search results and prevent users that search for abortion clinics and services from being misled.”

Google’s vice president of government affairs and public policy, Mark Isakowitz, responded this week to the request, reported CBS News. He announced that going forward, the company will label health clinic advertisements, search results, and Google Maps listings with either “Provides abortions” or “Does not provide abortions.”

u201cBack in June @RepSlotkin and I wrote to @Google urging them to improve their search results and prevent users that search for abortion clinics and services from being misled. Today I received a response from Google and am happy to report that they’re taking action. 1/4u201d

— Mark Warner (@Mark Warner)
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In order to run advertisements using keywords related to abortion services, a business is first required to complete Google’s abortion certification process. The process requires the clinic to state whether it does or does not provide abortions. Based on that response, Google will add the label to the business listing.

The letter stated, “We have extra layers of verification in place to help us confirm that places labeled as ‘abortion clinics’ on Google Maps and Search offer abortions. We provide a way for anyone to flag problematic reviews, inappropriate content, and misleading places for removal. People can also report misleading business information to Google via the business redressal form.”

Isakowitz’s letter said that if a user searches for clinics that provide abortions, those businesses will be the first to appear in the results. However, if the user would like to expand the search results, Google will provide the option to feature additional businesses that do not offer abortions.

Earlier this year, Google was targeted for leading users searching for abortion clinics to crisis pregnancy centers instead. According to research conducted by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a nonprofit “that counters hate and disinformation,” 11% of Google search results lead users searching for “abortion clinic near me” and “abortion pill” to CPCs that do not offer abortion.

On Wednesday, Yelp announced similar updates regarding health clinics that do not provide abortion services. The company accused CPCs of providing “misleading information in an attempt to steer people seeking abortion care to other options.”

Yelp declared that it would add a consumer notice to CPCs that states, “This is a Crisis Pregnancy Center. Crisis Pregnancy Centers typically provide limited medical services and may not have licensed medical professionals onsite.”

Planned Parenthood accused crisis pregnancy centers of having a “shady, harmful agenda: to scare, shame, or pressure you out of getting an abortion, and to tell lies about abortion, birth control, and sexual health.” The organization also referred to them as “fake clinics.”

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Google announced in a July blog post that it would erase location information for users who visited abortion clinics and other locations that it considered personal. It stated, “Today, we’re announcing that if our systems identify that someone has visited one of these places, we will delete these entries from Location History soon after they visit. This change will take effect in the coming weeks.”