Sen. Josh Hawley is calling on Google to explain why it has reportedly “throttled” the online outreach of pro-life crisis pregnancy centers, expressing concerns that Google is “deliberately limiting pregnancy resource centers' outreach efforts.”
In a letter first obtained by The Daily Signal, Hawley, R-Mo., tells Google that the pregnancy research centers in his home state “seek to reach women considering abortion, in order to offer both alternatives to abortion and support during and after their pregnancies.”
“That outreach takes a number of forms, including online ad campaigns focused on a number of abortion-related search terms,” he continued. “But recently, your company appears to have throttled that outreach.”
Pro-life crisis pregnancy centers have faced a slew of attacks since the May leak of a draft opinion indicating that Roe v. Wade would soon be overturned. According to a Catholic Vote tracker, at least 72 crisis pregnancy centers have been attacked or vandalized since the leak.
According to the Missouri senator, Missouri crisis pregnancy centers sought further information after “steep declines in online traffic” to their sites, and then provided Hawley with documentation indicating that Google said some of their ads “aren’t eligible to show for keywords that relate to restricted products or services.”
“I am concerned that, in the name of providing ‘clarity' in search results, your company is deliberately limiting pregnancy resource centers’ outreach efforts,” the senator said. “By doing so, Google has joined the far left’s campaign to punish pregnancy resource centers, following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization earlier this year.”
Hawley reminded Google that 17 state attorneys general warned Google earlier this year when crisis pregnancy centers first faced attacks, stressing that Google must not allow its search results to be impacted by “left-wing political pressure.”
“Yet your company doesn’t seem to have heeded that warning,” Hawley wrote. “Just two months ago, Sen. Mark Warner bragged that Democrats had successfully partnered with Google: as he put it, ‘Soon, those who search for ‘abortion clinics near me’ will only see facilities that have been verified to provide abortions in the local search box on Google, meaning that far fewer women will be mistakenly led to ‘crisis pregnancy centers[.]’”
The senator called on Google to address whether it has adopted a general policy that restricts the range of advertising keywords that are available to pregnancy resource centers, as well as when and how often individual organizations that seek to target abortion-related keywords must undergo Google's certification process.
“It strikes me as vanishingly unlikely that your company would impose similar restrictions on other advertisers offering ‘substitute goods,’” he wrote. “And the consequences of this unequal treatment will be grim: mothers and infants deterred from accessing crucial support in their time of need. That outcome is unacceptable.”
The senator's letter comes after seven prominent Democrats—including former presidential candidates Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. (a nominal independent who caucuses with Democrats)—sent a letter to Heartbeat International insinuating that the pro-life organization might be using data women provide to crisis pregnancy centers to target women.
The senators accused Heartbeat International of “luring pregnant people … to affiliate [crisis pregnancy center] facilities by using a variety of false and misleading tactics” like inaccurately suggesting pro-life centers provide “legitimate abortion and reproductive health care services.”
“Heartbeat International—which is explicitly opposed to abortion rights—appears to be in a position to collect a significant amount of personal information from women about their pregnancies and potential plans for managing their care, but it is not under any legal obligation to maintain the confidentiality of this information, or keep it out of the hands of abortion bounty hunters,” the senators wrote.
The Daily Signal's Tyler O'Neil contributed to this report.
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