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Republican attorneys general warn Google not to censor pro-life pregnancy centers in search results

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REUTERS/Mark Blinch

A group of Republican state attorneys general have vowed to take action against Google if it follows through with congressional Democrats' demands to censor search results by preventing women from finding pro-life pregnancy centers when searching for abortion.

Virginia’s Republican Attorney General Jason Miyares and Kentucky’s Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, along with 15 other state attorneys general, wrote a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai Thursday. They warned that the company could be investigated if it caved to demands by Democratic members of Congress to “take action” by preventing pro-life pregnancy centers from appearing in search results for queries about abortion clinics and abortion pills.

Democratic lawmakers are seeking to “limit the appearance of anti-abortion fake clinics” in Google Ads and on Google Maps. They claim that pro-life pregnancy centers are “fake clinics that traffic in misinformation and don’t provide comprehensive health services. These Democrats also argue that pro-life pregnancy clinics are "dangerous to women’s health" and their appearance in search results "undermines the integrity of Google’s search results."

“Complying with these demands would constitute a grave assault on the principle of free speech,” the attorneys general wrote. “‘Unbiased access to information,’ while no longer a component of Google’s corporate creed, is still what Americans expect from your company. ‘[S]tudies have found web users are more likely to find and trust news through search than social media sites.’”

The attorneys general insisted that “at least some Google users who search for information about abortion also expect to find information about alternatives to abortion, as evidenced by the fact that your search algorithm—free of the manipulation that left-wing politicians are demanding—consistently produces such results.” They further asserted that “suppressing pro-life and pro-mother voices at the urging of government officials would violate the most fundamental tenet of the American marketplace of ideas.”

Noting that Google has “monopoly power in the markets for search services and online advertising,” the letter characterized the “deployment of monopoly power to suppress the expression of a particular idea” by censoring search results with information about pro-life pregnancy centers as a “potential antitrust violation” that is “odious to American ideals.” The attorneys general proceeded to explain the actions they would take against Google if it complied with congressional Democrats’ “inappropriate demand.”

“Our offices will (1) conduct thorough investigations to determine whether this suppression violates the antitrust laws of the United States and our States; (2) investigate whether Google’s conduct amounts to an unlawful act of religious discrimination under state law; and (3) consider whether additional legislation—such as nondiscrimination rules under common carriage statutes—is necessary to protect consumers and markets,” they added.

“Google has two options — protect the freedom of the marketplace of ideas or face legal consequences. American consumers expect diversity of opinion and thought,” said Miyares in a statement. “The idea that elected officials are both advocating for the removal of private charities and encouraging Google to outwardly discriminate against crisis pregnancy centers and silence voices different than their own is appalling.”

The June 17 letter from congressional Democrats to Pichai, crafted by Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., and 18 other lawmakers, cited concerns about the possible overturning of the 1973 Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide as the justification for their push for the censorship of Google search results to exclude “anti-abortion fake clinics.” The Supreme Court ultimately overturned Roe in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision a week later.

The attorneys general’s letter concluded with a request to answer questions inquiring as to whether Google has taken or intends to take “any steps to treat crisis pregnancy centers any differently with regard to Google search results, Google Ads, Google Maps, or any other Google service than they were treated before the leak of the draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization” and if so, what steps it had taken. The letter requested a response to the questions within 14 days.

The letter from congressional Democrats to Pinchai came a month-and-a-half after Politico published a leaked draft opinion in the Dobbs case indicating that a majority of Supreme Court justices were poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. In the aftermath of the publication of the leaked Dobbs draft, several churches and pro-life pregnancy centers have become the target of vandalism by pro-abortion activists. In many cases, graffiti reading “fake clinic” has been spray-painted on the facilities.

While the pro-life pregnancy centers are chastised by Democrats and pro-abortion activists for their opposition to abortion, the attorneys general highlighted a study from the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute that elaborated on the services the organizations provide. The study found that pro-life pregnancy centers “served over 1.8 million clients in 2019, providing services valued at $266 million at little or no cost to their patients.”

Examples of such services cited in the letter include “free ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, parenting and prenatal education classes, post-abortive care and recovery counseling, and free or reduced-cost diapers, baby clothes, car seats and strollers.”

Stressing that “these pregnancy centers serve women, no matter who they are or what they believe,” the attorneys general expressed concern that “the attacks threaten not only those affiliated with the centers, but also the mothers in desperate need of the assistance the centers provide.”

House Republicans attempted to pass a resolution condemning the attacks against pro-life pregnancy centers and churches this week but their effort was blocked by congressional Democrats.

House Republicans attempted to pass a resolution condemning the attacks against pro-life pregnancy centers and churches this week, but congressional Democrats blocked their effort.

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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