After Roe vs. Wade Overturned, Google announced it was making it easier to use its Maps and Search products to find medical providers offering abortions. When someone searches for specific services and Google has confirmation that a location provides those services, it will be clearly labeled in search and on Maps. For example, Google notes that it already does this when you search for electric vehicle charging stations or a specific brand of COVID-19 vaccine, and will now do this for veterans hospitals and healthcare facilities that offer abortions. As you can see in the image above, searching for “abortion clinics near me” will bring up a list of locations that Google has confirmed provide abortion services.
Although Google doesn’t say it right away, it appears to be an effort to avoid sending people seeking medical care to so-called “abortion crisis centers” or anti-abortion centers. For locations that Google doesn’t have confirmation for, it will instead say “may not provide abortions,” which serves as a passive but still significant red flag for anyone seeking treatment. . In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that anti-abortion centers couldn’t be forced to recognize abortion as an option, something that outsources that work to private companies like Google.
Earlier this week, Yelp announced that it would take a similar but more definitive step by adding warning labels to anti-abortion centers; these disclaimers note that these establishments “may not have licensed medical professionals on site.” Google says its update has been in the works for months, but it comes at a time when employees have said the company needs to do more to project both users and its contractors into a post-Roe world.
The fact that Google is getting confirmation from centers that offer abortions should make search and Maps results more useful. A Google spokesperson said “we obtain confirmation that places provide a particular service in a number of ways, including regularly calling businesses directly and working with authoritative data sources.” Thus, users should be able to be sure that medical centers that are labeled as offering abortions actually offer the service. Google also makes it easier to broaden your search if you can’t find relevant nearby results with a “look further” prompt, another tool that can help people looking for abortion services where clinics are scarce. .
Google says these changes will start rolling out today, though they won’t be immediately visible to all Google users until a little later.
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