Google in a letter to lawmakers on Thursday said it would clearly identify facilities that provide abortions to ensure people seeking the procedure are not misled by anti-abortion clinics.
Mark Isakowitz, the vice president for government affairs and public policy for the U.S. and Canada at Google, said in a letter to Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) that the company will include labels like “Provides abortions” and “Does not provide abortions” that the company has verified at the top of advertisement search results.
The change could help prevent women from seeking the procedure at clinics that oppose abortion or crisis pregnancy centers, which work to convince people against having the procedure.
The announcement comes in response to a letter Warner, Slotkin and other members of Congress sent to the CEO of Google in June to urge him to prevent misleading abortion search results.
The lawmakers said in the letter that 37 percent of Google Maps results and 11 percent of search results for “abortion clinics near me” and “abortion pill” in states with abortion trigger bans were for anti-abortion clinics.
A Google spokesperson told The Hill that the company has been working for months to find more useful ways to display results that show the specific services that businesses offer.
The spokesperson said the update that Google is introducing will help users find locations that offer the services they search for or broaden their results so they can see more options. The company will confirm that certain places provide a service through regularly calling them directly and collaborating with “authoritative” data sources.
“When people turn to Google to find local information, we aim to help them easily explore the range of places available so they can determine which are most helpful to them,” the spokesperson said.
The updates will affect how Google shows search results and maps to give people additional context about what they are viewing, according to a Google spokesperson.
The company will include the note “Might not provide abortions” when it is unable to verify information.
Google will also allow users to expand their search radius if the most relevant results are not nearby.
Warner said in a release that the changes are not about restricting speech but providing results that accurately address a search.
“I welcome the changes that Google has announced today so that women seeking abortion services aren’t directed towards fake clinics that traffic in misinformation and don’t provide comprehensive health services,” he said.