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Google Maps and Search Will Clearly Label Facilities Providing Abortion Care

Google responded directly to concerns from lawmakers.

Google Maps logo on a phone
Google Maps and Search will clearly label clinics and facilities that provide abortion care. 
James Martin/CNET

Google Maps and Search will begin clearly labeling clinics and facilities that provide abortions, the company said in a letter to lawmakers on Thursday.

The Mountain View, California, company said results will clearly say "Provides abortions" for clinics that do so, a response to a June letter by Democratic lawmakers led by Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia and Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan. This designation extends to clinics that prescribe medication abortions but don't dispense pills to customers. Lawmakers called out Google earlier this year for directing people to "crisis pregnancy centers," which don't provide abortions and which Planned Parenthood calls "fake clinics."

In Maps, when a person searches for "abortion clinics near me," Google said Local Search results will display facilities verified to provide abortion care. People can also search for organizations that don't provide abortions as well. 

"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 in a statement. "We followed our standard testing and evaluation process to confirm that these updates are more helpful for people."

The move is the latest by a tech company following the Supreme Court's ruling in June in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization case, which eliminated the constitutional right to an abortion that was established nearly 50 years ago in Roe v. Wade. Some states were quick to either restrict or ban abortions entirely. The ruling was met with politicians and advocates worried that online data could be used to prosecute women seeking abortions. 

Earlier this month, Facebook provided law enforcement with Messenger data sent between a mother and her teenage daughter. The mother is facing criminal charges but has pleaded not guilty. Google workers also signed a petition earlier this month asking CEO Sundar Pichai and other top executives to protect sensitive user search and location data regarding abortions. 

The search giant reiterated that when clinics advertise with Google, they must go through a certification process and disclose if they actually provide abortions. If facilities provide other reproductive health care, such as pregnancy tests or abortion counseling, but not abortions, then Google will make a clear disclosure in Search.