by Birthright: A War Story | 3.27.18
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Women and girls seeking an abortion provider through Google Maps could end up in the care of a pro-life staff aiming to pressure their clients out of terminating a pregnancy.
A quick search for “Where can I get an abortion near me?” in cities across the country directs those searching for a facility to locations of pro-life pregnancy crisis centers, while legitimate providers are pushed lower down in the results, according to an investigative report by Gizmodo and Damn Joan.
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Googling the phrase in the New York area and then opening up the map feature turns up a mixed bag of results, though legitimate facilities do still top the list. But in a one-star review for a Brooklyn “Women’s Health facility,” one commenter claimed the staff would not refer her to an abortion clinic or provide any helpful information on the procedure despite offering consultation services on its website.
“The older woman told me she wouldn’t tell me where the abortion clinics are located because it’s not what I truly want, although I told her from the beginning my husband and I weren’t ready for a child,” she wrote. In Mississippi the search results prove a bit more troubling. In the top five search results for an abortion clinic in the Jackson area, the first, third and fourth options are for a crisis center, Gizmodo reported.
NARAL Pro-Choice in 2014 pressured Google to stop accepting ads from such centers. According to the organization’s research, using the search engine to seek out an abortion directed users to the pro-life facilities 79% of the time.
In some locations Planned Parenthood was in the lower half of the search results. (ANDREW KELLY/REUTERS)
The anti-abortion centers — which are often religious and at times without qualified medical staff — would purchase ads from Google to boost their placement in the search results. The only indicator that the operations paid to have them placed higher up is a small green square with the word “ad” in it.
But because such facilities rely on pregnant women searching for abortions as their clients, they’ve turned down another technology avenue: Google Maps. A non-profit listing can be created on the feature by anyone, with mostly unmonitored and unlimited user intervention, according to Gizmodo.
With vague designations like “Women’s Health Centers,” and “Health Clinics” it can prove difficult to distinguish what services each facility truly offers. Google in response to the Gizmodo report said it was “looking into” why crisis pregnancy centers are turning up in abortion search results. “We strive for business results that are relevant, accurate and help users find what they’re looking for.”
Written by Birthright: A War Story
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