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Lawmakers Persuade Google to Take Down Fake Abortion Clinics

By: Violet Yan

On June 17, 2022, in a letter sent to Sundar Pichar – the CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet—lawmakers in Washington, DC urged Google to fix false abortion searches on the company’s website for fake abortion clinics. A US Supreme Court decision later this month could take away women’s right to have an abortion

11% of Google results for abortion don’t actually provide abortion and 28% of Google ads that were on the ‘top related page’ are actually antiabortion clinics. Also, 37% of the results on Google Maps for abortion were also against abortion. The ‘top related sites’ for the abortion that are fake clinics, such as ‘crisis pregnancy centers’, actively dissuade patients from selecting abortion, often through misinformation such as inaccurate information about their pregnancy.

People should realize that women have the right to do abortion if they want to, as it is allowed and protected by state level by Roe v. Wade. Roe v. Wade was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States generally protects a pregnant woman's liberty to choose to have an abortion. People can’t stop women from abortion because it has direct consequences to their personal health, and it is their choice if they want to do it or not. For example, pregnant women of older age or women with underlying health complications usually have a higher risk.

People can have their opinions, but how they project and display their opinions into the world can hurt others. “This is just another example of how hate and disinformation actors can weaponize digital platforms to cause real world harm to people,” Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate said. This references to his reaction to the draft Supreme Court opinion leaked in May about the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“Fighting misinformation through accurate search results is especially critical for Google given its global reach,” Ahmed said. Google is obviously far ahead in the lead the most popular search engine, with more than 90 percent of the global market share, according to the German consumer data analysis company, Statista. Being the leading search engine is extremely impactful on the accuracy of abortion clinic search results because people use it and assume it is accurate.

Though these crisis pregnancy centers are legal, they aren’t well liked because they try to convince people to not do abortion even though it is their choice and promote delays and unfairness in access to abortion. These sites that seem reliable don’t offer abortion services, they make false claims to convince people against abortion against abortion such as abortions will make a pregnant person infertile or that suicidal urges are common after an abortion. People nowadays heavily rely on the Internet for information. Therefore, giving out wrong information is very irresponsible.

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