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Activists to Google Maps: Crack Down on Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Overall, the U.S. abortion rate has been in decline for about thirty years, for a variety of reasons, including available alternatives

When the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Dobbs decision (June 24, 2022) that “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion” (SCOTUSblog) returned the abortion issue to the state legislatures, a number crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) that do not offer abortion have been attacked by abortion militants.

One source the militants appear to be using is an online map of such centers created by University of Georgia biostatisticians Andrea Swartzendruber and Danielle Lambert, who call them “fake women’s health centers.” For example:

Puget Sound Anarchists posted a link to the map in a post made about a vandalism at a Vancouver, Washington pregnancy center. Crisis pregnancy center Options 360 was vandalized with red paint, and the phrase “Jane’s Revenge.”

The group also told their followers, “You can find your nearest fake abortion clinic on the Crisis Pregnancy Center Map.”

Hannah Nightingale, “Pro-abortion militants target pregnancy centers using map created by university professors” at PM. (June 28, 2022)

A number of other groups appear to have followed suit.

On the map site, Drs. Schwartzendruber and Lambert state that they condemn vandalism and violence.

Some activists are going after Google, which lists the centers on Google Maps. Here’s a representative complaint at Jezebel:

Across the country, CPCs outnumber real abortion clinics three to one, while in states like Pennsylvania and Minnesota, that ratio surges to nine to one and 11 to one, respectively. Many states even offer public funding to CPCs, including redirected federal funds for welfare programs.

Kylie Cheung, “Google Is Already Worsening the Abortion Access Crisis” at Jezebel (June 13, 2022)

In general, the activists and militants seem to assume that women faced with an unexpected pregnancy are quite certain they want an abortion and neither want nor need further information or an opportunity for second thoughts. But the ratio of CPCs to abortion clinics implies that abortion is not nearly as popular with the public as with readers of Jezebel.

Obstetric Ultrasonography Ultrasound Echography of a fourth month fetus

Meanwhile, the New York Attorney General Letitia James has also demanded that Google “crack down on search results that direct users to ‘dangerous and misleading anti-abortion clinics.’” (DailyDot, June 30, 2022) Over 20 Democratic Members of the House and Senate sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, asking for the same thing. Cheung tells us that Google has promised to “improve.”

Generally, it’s not the pregnant women who are complaining:

In the wake of Democrats’ attempts to hide pro-life pregnancy centers in Google search results, a new analysis reveals that since 2016 pro-life clinics have saved over 800,000 human lives by providing local women the support they need to carry their children to term.

… a Lozier Institute analysis of national data finds that an average of 99 percent of women upon leaving a pro-life pregnancy help center reported they were happy with their service. From items like diapers, car seats, and strollers to programs like after-abortion support, sexual risk education, and parenting classes, pro-life pregnancy centers have been supporting women in unwanted or difficult pregnancies since 1969.

Beth Whitehead, “Crisis Pregnancy Centers That Democrats Smeared As ‘Fake Clinics’ Saved 800,000 Lives Since 2016” at The Federalist (June 23, 2022)

The abortion rate in the United States has been slowly declining for decades for various reasons. Easily available alternatives are probably among them.

A new factor in the situation — mobile crisis pregnancy centers — may obviate whatever Google decides to do. That has some researchers very worried, as the title of a recently published paper suggests: “U.S. anti-abortion ideology on the move: Mobile crisis pregnancy centers as unruly, unmappable, and ungovernable”:

The mobile nature of on-the-go crisis pregnancy centers makes them difficult to both map and regulate. Taking these challenges as a starting point, we reflect on what we learned from our failure to map mobile crisis pregnancy centers. We first outline how mobile crisis pregnancy centers—the epitome of the wild, ungovernable, and unruly—call into question the glorification of these concepts in feminist and queer studies.

Carly Thomsen, Zach Levitt, Christopher Gernon, Penelope Spencer, U.S. anti-abortion ideology on the move: Mobile crisis pregnancy centers as unruly, unmappable, and ungovernable, Political Geography, Volume 92, 2022, 102523, ISSN 0962-6298, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2021.102523. The paper requires a fee or subscription.

Google can do what it wants with its maps but can’t really stop crisis pregnancy centers from moving around town.

Note: The decision was leaked on May 2 by Politico, with the first draft posted online.

You may also wish to read: The Brave search engine survives; so does privacy still matter? Despite Google’s overwhelming dominance, Brave clocked 2.5 billion searches since this time last year. Not content just to survive, Brave is pioneering Goggles, which enables the user, rather than the company, to customize the search.

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Activists to Google Maps: Crack Down on Crisis Pregnancy Centers