“For a number of categories where we’ve had confirmation that places offer specific services, we’ve spent many months working 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 broaden their results to see more options.”
Google said it works with authoritative data sources and also calls locations to confirm they offer abortion care. Places that the company isn’t sure about, but that still show up in search results, are also labeled not to be allowed to offer abortion services. TechCrunch reported the change earlier Thursday.
Abortion is now banned in these states. See where laws have changed.
Google is often the first place people turn to when they seek medical help, and crisis maternity centers have bought ads and structured their websites to show up in abortion search results. Proponents have called on Google to stop displaying the centers in search results or to provide better labeling. An August report from Bloomberg News found that Google Maps showed results for crisis maternity 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 expressed concern that the crisis centers may hold records of women seeking abortion care, which could be used by police in criminal investigations.
Abortion is now banned or largely banned in 15 states, including Tennessee and Texas, whose bans went into effect Thursday. Abortion and privacy advocates have pressured tech companies to be clearer in both labeling abortion providers and explaining how they will respond to police requests for data on their users related to abortion.
Last month, Google said it would delete its users’ location history for visits to abortion clinics and other health care providers.