Virginia state Attorney General (AG) Jason Miyares and 16 other Republican AGs warned Google about the legal consequences of viewpoint discrimination after 21 Democratic Congressmen urged the company to censor search results for “abortion services” by excluding crisis pregnancy aid centers.
Miyares and the other AGs advised Alphabet Inc. (Google) CEO Sundar Pichai they will investigate potential violations of state antitrust laws and religious discrimination, and sue the company if it restricts free speech, in a letter on July 21.
“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,” states the AGs’ letter.
‘Politicians’ Sneering Insults’
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and 20 other Democratic lawmakers previously wrote Pichai, urging action to change search results for Google and Google Maps.
“Google should not be displaying anti-abortion fake clinics or crisis pregnancy centers in search results for users that are searching for an ‘abortion clinic’ or ‘abortion pill,’” states the Congressmen’s letter.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA-D), who signed the legislators’ letter and later called for crisis pregnancy centers to be shut down, introduced the “Stop Anti-Abortion Disinformation Act,” which would give authority to the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit “deceptive or misleading advertising” related to the provision of abortion services, on June 23, before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Google should not bow to political pressure, state the AGs.
“That Members of the United States Congress would openly call for the full weight and power of the federal government to shut down private charitable organizations that have shown compassion and love to so many vulnerable women over the years is unconscionable,” wrote the AGs. “Left-wing politicians’ sneering insults toward crisis pregnancy centers and their important work is all the more disturbing because it comes at a time when pro-life pregnancy centers are literally under attack by violent pro-abortion activists.”
Google can be unbiased or face legal action, said Miyares, in a statement.
“American consumers expect diversity of opinion and thought,” said Miyares. “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 nonprofits that offer women abortion alternatives perform valuable services, state the AGs.
“According to a 2020 study, crisis pregnancy centers served over 1.8 million clients in 2019, providing services valued at $266 million at little or no cost to their patients,” wrote the AGs. “These services included 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.”
Demand for the services has grown so much that it prompted HELP Pregnancy Aid, a Michigan charity, to expand, Executive Director Paula Veneklase told Health Care News.
“Pregnancy center services go far beyond the immediate problems a woman might be facing in an unexpected pregnancy to the resources she needs to look at her situation long term,” said Veneklase.
They have found women have concerns beyond their pregnancy, says Veneklase.
“What we experience when working with women vulnerable to thinking abortion is her only option is that usually, it is not the baby that is the problem,” said Veneklase. “If we can alleviate the circumstances with information, community support, and resources, women will 92 percent of the time make a choice that will bring her pregnancy to term.”
‘Impose Their Woke Ideology’
Google has revised its official code of conduct, removing the goal of “providing our users unbiased access to information,” stated the AGs.
What Google does and should do could be two different things, says John C. Goodman, president of the Goodman Institute of Public Policy Research and co-publisher of Health Care News.
“Google should be an open forum, a free market for ideas,” said Goodman. “If it’s not functioning that way, then it should warn people that when they search on Google it’s not a real search and there’s nanny regulation because they decide what you should see and what you shouldn’t see. You’ve heard of the nanny state, well Google is the nanny company.”
Tech companies like Google could downplay information about crisis pregnancy centers because they know those groups discourage abortions, says Goodman.
“I can understand why there would be limits on what people would put online,” said Goodman. “But they’ve gone way beyond that—these highly educated young people want to impose their woke ideology onto other people, not because the ideas they’re against are a dangerous threat against anybody or because they’re criminal—they do it because they just don’t like them.”
‘All Options Before Her’
Censoring pregnancy support services interferes with a woman’s right to choose, says Veneklase.
“To make a choice about something this important would mean she should be aware of all options before her,” said Veneklase. “Included in the options should be the right to explore what it would be like to parent or make an adoption plan for her baby. To offer abortion as her only way out of a difficult situation is to say that there are no resources available to her. And that is simply not the case, and if she is being told that she is being lied to.
Kenneth Artz (KApublishing@gmx.com) writes from Dallas, Texas.
This article was updated on July 29, 2022.
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