“For a number of categories where we’ve received confirmation that places offer specific services, we’ve been working for months on more useful ways to display those results,” Lara Levin, a Google spokeswoman, said in a statement. “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 expand their results to see more options.”
Google said it works with authoritative data sources and also calls places to verify they offer abortion care. Places that the company is unsure about, but still come up in search results, will also receive a label saying that they may not offer abortion services. TechCrunch reported the change earlier Thursday.
Abortion is now prohibited in these states. See where the laws have changed.
Google is often the first place people turn when seeking medical help, and crisis pregnancy centers have bought ads and structured their websites to appear in abortion search results. Advocates have asked Google to stop showing the centers in search results or provide better labeling. An August report by Bloomberg News found that Google Maps showed results for crisis pregnancy centers about a quarter of the time when people searched for abortion care.
As more states make the procedure illegal, privacy and abortion advocates have raised concerns that the shelters could retain data about women who come seeking abortion care, which could be used by police in criminal investigations.
Abortion is now banned or mostly banned in 15 states, including Tennessee and Texas, whose bans took effect Thursday. Abortion and privacy advocates have pushed tech companies to be more transparent both in labeling abortion providers and explaining how they will respond to police requests for data about their users related to abortion.
Last month, Google said it would delete users’ location history for visits to abortion clinics and other healthcare providers.