Women Searching For Abortion Clinics Are Being Directed To Anti-Choice Centres And It's Not Right

22 February 2018, 16:07 | Updated: 19 November 2018, 15:21

Woman on her phone and touching the screen
Nicky Idika

By Nicky Idika

Women looking for abortion clinics are being sent to anti-abortion centres by Google Maps. That's a huge problem.

Google is probably your go-to for all things information based. "What new restaurant should I try for dinner?" "Should I go gluten-free?" "How many calories are in a glass of wine?" If you need some information, chances are you turn to Google for answers.

New reporting from Gizmodo suggests, however, that women searching for abortion clinics on Google Maps might not be getting the full--or even correct picture.

Woman looking at her phone on the train Picture: Getty Images

Imagine being a woman who, for her own personal reasons, has decided to terminate a pregnancy. She asks Google where the nearest abortion clinic is, and as expected, Google responds with a ton of different possible locations to visit.

Sounds like ‘job done’, right? Wrong. Gizmodo’s new reporting found that, in some communities, when Google was asked to recommend abortion clinics nearby, the results would suggest locations that we’re quite literally the opposite of an abortion clinic.

Some of these places are categorised as "crisis pregnancy centres", a loaded term which often tricks women into thinking they’re going to a place where they can receive abortion services. 

They are attempting to "pass themselves off" as abortion services but they are not. And when they are uncovered, and complaints are made against them, these organisations simply rename themselves and advertise under different names. Because these CPCs are not being truthful about what they are, they don't meet the proper standards for accurate and honest advertising.

What is a "crisis pregnancy centre"?

A crisis pregnancy centre might provide free pregnancy tests or offer other "free services" to pregnant women. Their main objective, however, is to dissuade women from terminating their pregnancies. CPCs often lecture women and provide misleading pamphlets and literature to try and change their minds.

Sometimes CPCs will push young women to have ultrasounds, believing that seeing the foetus will influence them not to go through with the abortion. These are fundamentally deceptive places that exploit frayed emotions and rely on disinformation.

So, you can see why Google inadvertently sending women to these places is a big problem.

Waiting room Picture: Getty Images

The issue could be that these businesses have learned to cheat the system. Sometimes CPCs will deceptively list themselves under "abortion services" in the Google directory so that they automatically come up in abortion related search results.

A spokesperson for Google told The Guardian that they were "looking into the issues flagged".

Someone looking to terminate a pregnancy doesn't need to be lectured, persuaded, or made to feel guilty for their choices. Women are capable of making their own decisions and search engines cannot leave the door open for CPCs to use their platforms in order to exploit women in this way.

To find out how the British Pregnancy Advisory Service is fighting for fair and safe abortion access, visit bpas.org