Aug 25, 2022 - Technology

Google to enhance labeling for abortion providers

Illustration of a spotlight on the Google logo.

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Google Maps and Search will start clearly labeling results for healthcare facilities that provide abortions, the company announced Thursday.

Why it matters: When users browse Google Search or Maps, they will be able to more clearly tell which facilities provide abortions and which may be a crisis pregnancy center or another place that does not provide abortion.

  • Lawmakers have been urging Google to make such changes to keep users away from misleading results for clinics, while Republican state attorneys general have urged Google to keep crisis pregnancy centers in search results.
  • Yelp announced earlier this week it will flag listings for crisis pregnancy centers, Axios previously reported.
  • Google's changes are part of a series of improvements to Search and Maps, the company said. Google-owned YouTube announced tighter rules barring abortion-related misinformation last month.

Driving the news: Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and dozens of state laws went into effect severely limiting or banning abortion, tech platforms have been forced to respond with new policies as people seek information about abortion online.

What they're saying: "We’re now rolling out an update that makes it easier for people to find places that offer the services they’ve searched for, or broaden their results to see more options. We get confirmation that places provide a particular service in a number of ways, including regularly calling businesses directly and working with authoritative data sources," a Google spokesperson said.

If the company has confirmed that a healthcare facility provides abortions, the label will say "Provides abortions."

  • If Google has not confirmed that information, the label will say, "Might not provide abortions."
  • That label won't necessarily apply just to crisis pregnancy centers but could appear for other types of health care facilities if Google has not confirmed they provide abortions.

What's next: Online platforms big and small are going to face further tough decisions around abortion information.

  • Last week, employees wrote to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai urging the tech giant to protect the personal data of users seeking information about abortion.
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