Alabama Attorney (AG) General Steve Marshall has joined several AGs nationwide in a joint letter urging Google not to suppress online access to crisis pregnancy centers.
A month after some members of Congress urged Google to limit the appearance of “anti-abortion” pregnancy centers in specific abortion-related search results, 17 Republican AGs are warning the company that doing so could invite investigations and possible legal action.
The centers in question are called crisis pregnancy centers, which are often religiously aligned and usually try to counsel mothers against procuring an abortion.
Pro-choice advocates oppose the centers, claiming they spread misinformation that is “dangerous” to women’s health.
The various AGs said that such an action on behalf of Google would “suppress pro-life and pro-mother voices.”
“Google accounts for more than 90% of all internet searches in the United States,” Marshall said. “It also holds a dominant position in the market for online advertising. This dominant market position comes with a tremendous responsibility to Google’s users and to the American public. Google once recognized its outsized public duty in its corporate motto, ‘Don’t be evil,’ and its commitment to ‘provide . . . users with unbiased access to information.’ Unfortunately, several national politicians now seek to wield Google’s immense market power by pressuring the company to discriminate against pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in its search results, in its online advertising and in its other products such as Google Maps.”
The letter from the AGs states in no uncertain terms that they fully intend to investigate the legal options against Google should they follow the demands of Democratic lawmakers.
“If you comply with this inappropriate demand to bias your search results against crisis pregnancy centers, our offices will (1) conduct thorough investigations to determine whether this suppression violates the antitrust laws of the United States and our States; (2) investigate whether Google’s conduct amounts to an unlawful act of religious discrimination under state law; and (3) consider whether additional legislation—such as nondiscrimination rules under common carriage statutes—is necessary to protect consumers and markets,” the letter reads.
After the initial leak of the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which struck down the previous court ruling in Roe v. Wade, Democratic lawmakers sent a letter urging Google to limit search results that directed people to crisis pregnancy centers.
The June 17 letter to the company from U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, and Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Michigan, was co-signed by 19 other members of Congress.
That letter cited research by the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate, which found that Google searches for “abortion clinic near me” and “abortion pill” resulted in centers that counsel clients against having an abortion.
“Directing women towards fake clinics that traffic in misinformation and don’t provide comprehensive health services is dangerous to women’s health and undermines the integrity of Google’s search results,” said the Warner and Slotkin letter.
Officials with Google have yet to respond to either of the letters.
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