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Pro-life healthcare centers are still showing up on Google Maps when users search for abortion clinics, a Vice News investigation revealed.
Oftentimes, this occurs in rural areas and other places that already have limited pro-choice resources to begin with.
In Tennessee–in addition to the pro-life clinics–the National Memorial for the Unborn pops up in Google Maps. The memorial is a place “dedicated to healing generations of pain associated with the loss of aborted and miscarried children.”
Vice News conducted a search for abortion clinics in 55 cities across 22 states that are at risk if Roe v. Wade is overturned. In 21 of the cities, the journalists found that Google directs users to centers that either don’t provide abortions or would explicitly urge them to not get abortions.
In North Dakota, the search for, “Where can I get an abortion in Bismarck, North Dakota?” turns up North Dakota Right to Life, an anti-abortion clinic. And the only abortion clinic in North Dakota, the Red River Women’s Clinic, does not show up in the search.
When the Daily Dot ran a search on Saturday for abortion clinics in North Dakota, two other centers show up–one of which doesn’t provide abortions and the other states that its mission is “assisting women and men to understand and take responsibility for their reproductive health through education, counseling and medical services” and doesn’t mention abortion on its website.
A slightly tweaked search, however, “Where can I get an abortion in North Dakota?” turns up the Red River Women’s Clinic.
Similarly, the search for, “Where can I get an abortion in Little Rock, Arkansas?” generates a family planning center that provides abortion, a Planned Parenthood location, but also Arkansas Right to Life–a pro-life organization that states allowing abortion would influence “society’s acceptance of infanticide.”
Google’s struggle to make it easier for women to find abortion clinics is not new. A Gizmodo investigation in February found that when women search, “Where can I get an abortion near me?” Google Maps directs them to “crisis pregnancy centers” masked as abortion centers that counsel women against abortion.
Crisis pregnancy centers—while legal—are controversial because they are known to not provide “comprehensive, accurate, evidence-based clinical information” and instead promote the idea that becoming a parent and adoption are better options than abortion. They are often criticized for being predatory, as the decision to terminate a pregnancy can take a toll on one’s mental health, and they often capitalize on this vulnerable state.
According to Vice News, Google is aware of its Google Maps-abortion clinic problem. Google claims this problem largely exists because pro- and anti-abortion centers often operate on the same keywords.
“There are situations in which it can be overt misrepresentation and the business knows what they’re doing. I mean, that’s the purpose of the business,” Google spokesperson Paul Pennington told Vice News. “If you are picking the right business category, if you are—again—being very clear in your website and you say, ‘We do not provide these services, etc.,’ that’s on us.”
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- The crushing effects of Trump’s abortion ‘gag rule’ on healthcare
- Google Maps could be making it harder for women to find abortion clinics
H/T Vice News
Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque