Activists on Google Maps: Crack down on pregnancy centers in crisis
When the recent decision of the Supreme Court of the United States Dobbs decision (June 24, 2022) that “the Constitution does not confer the right to abortion” (SCOTUS blog) referred the abortion issue to state legislatures, a number of Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) that do not offer abortions have been attacked by abortion activists.
One source activists appear to be using is an online map of these centers created by University of Georgia biostatisticians Andrea Swartzendruber and Danielle Lambert, who call them “fake women’s health centers.” For instance:
Puget Sound Anarchists posted a link to the map in an article about a vandalism at a pregnancy center in Vancouver, Washington. The Options 360 crisis pregnancy center was vandalized with red paint and the phrase “Jane’s Revenge”.
The group also told its followers, “You can find the nearest fake abortion clinic on the Crisis Pregnancy Center map.”
Hannah Nightingale“Pro-abortion activists target pregnancy centers using map created by college professors” at PM. (June 28, 2022)
A number of other groups appear to have followed suit.
A map of fake abortion clinics, including dozens in the Twin Cities area…you know, just because information is powerhttps://t.co/ifQ9YxTBU0
— Twin Cities Camp Responders (@TCparkresponder) June 24, 2022
On the map site, Drs. Schwartzendruber and Lambert declare that they condemn vandalism and violence.
Some activists are attacking Google, which lists the centers on Google Maps. Here is a representative complaint to Jezebel:
Nationwide, CPCs outnumber actual abortion clinics by three times, while in states like Pennsylvania and Minnesota, that ratio jumps to nine-to-one and 11-to-one, respectively. Many states even provide public funding to CPCs, including federal funds redirected to welfare programs.
Kylie Cheung“Google has already made the abortion access crisis worse” on Jezebel (June 13, 2022)
Generally speaking, advocates and activists seem to assume that women faced with an unexpected pregnancy are fairly certain they want an abortion and neither want nor need additional information or an opportunity for reflection. But the relationship between CPCs and abortion clinics means that abortion isn’t as popular with the public as it is with readers of Jezebel.
Meanwhile, New York Attorney General Letitia James also demanded that Google “clamp down on search results that direct users to ‘dangerous and misleading abortion clinics’.” (DailyDot, June 30, 2022) More than 20 Democratic members of the House and Senate sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai asking for the same. Cheung tells us that Google promised to “get better”.
Generally, it is not pregnant women who complain:
Following Democrats’ attempts to hide pro-life pregnancy centers from Google search results, a new analysis reveals that since 2016, pro-life clinics have saved more than 800,000 lives by providing local women with the support they need to carry their children to term.
… an analysis of national data from the Lozier Institute reveals that on average 99% of women leaving a pro-life pregnancy center said they were satisfied with their service. From items like diapers, car seats, and strollers to programs like post-abortion support, sexual risk education, and parenting classes, pro-life pregnancy centers support women with unwanted pregnancies or difficult since 1969.
Beth Whitehead“Crisis Pregnancy Centers Democrats Called ‘Fake Clinics’ Have 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 a variety of reasons. Easily available alternatives are probably one of them.
A new factor in the situation – mobile crisis pregnancy centers – may prevent whatever Google decides to do. This worries some scholars, as the title of a recently published article suggests: “Anti-Abortion Ideology in the United States in Motion: Mobile Crisis Pregnancy Centers as Unruly, Unmappable, and Ungovernable”:
The mobile nature of on-the-go emergency pregnancy centers makes them difficult to map and regulate. Taking these challenges as a starting point, we reflect on what we have learned from our failure to map mobile emergency pregnancy centers. We first expose how mobile emergency pregnancy centers—the epitome of the wild, the ungovernable, and the unruly—challenge the glorification of these concepts in feminist and queer studies.
Carly Thomsen, Zach Levitt, Christopher Gernon, Penelope Spencer, American Anti-Abortion Ideology in Motion: 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 newspaper requires a fee or a subscription.
Google can do what it wants with its maps but can’t really stop crisis pregnancy centers from moving around town.
To note: The decision was disclosed on May 2 by Politico, with the first draft going live.
You can also read: The Brave search engine survives; so does privacy still matter? Despite Google’s overwhelming dominance, Brave has logged 2.5 billion searches since this time last year. Not content to just survive, Brave pioneered Goggles, which allows the user, rather than the business, to personalize search.