- 11% of Google results for abortions in “trigger states” were for fake anti-abortion clinics, according to one story.
- On Google Maps, 37% of the results were for fake clinics that did not offer abortion.
- There are 13 US “trigger states” that have laws to criminalize abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
People who search Google for information about abortion in ‘trigger states’ are likely to see details of fake anti-abortion clinics that don’t offer abortions, according to a report by the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) .
Trigger states are states that have laws that immediately criminalize abortion if the Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade. This is a clear possibility, according to a draft advice from the Supreme Court that was leaked in May.
The states in question are: Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.
For its report, London-based CCDH conducted Google searches from each of the 13 states using a browser extension that allows people to set up their computers in different locations around the world.
The CCDH used Google Search and Google Maps to see which results made it to the first page when key terms like “abortion clinic near me” and “abortion pill” were entered.
Out of a total of 445 registered results, 11% sent users to fake anti-abortion clinics.
The problem was particularly acute with Google Maps results, where the CCDH found that 26 out of 70 results led users to fake clinics — a 37% return rate.
The CCDH used the first three locations presented by Google Maps to collect its sample. The nonprofit isn’t the first to report on the problem of anti-abortion clinics sneaking into Google results for abortion services.
The BBC reported in May that it had found misleading ads high in Google’s search results that appeared to be clinics offering abortions, but were in fact anti-abortion centers.
One woman told the BBC she went to a clinic after seeing it offered ‘a free abortion consultation’, but once there she was given misinformation about abortions, including claims they were linked to infertility and breast cancer.
The CCDH found on Google Search that 28% of Google ads appearing at the top of search results pages were for fake abortion clinics.
The CCDH said it found misinformation when it visited the fake clinic websites surfaced by Google. These include claims that “suicidal impulses” were common after abortions and suggestions that a hysterectomy might be needed to stop an abortion.
A Google spokesperson told Insider: “Across all of our products, we work to make high-quality information easily accessible, especially on critical health topics.”
It continued, “Any organization that wants to advertise to people seeking information about abortion services on Google must be certified and show disclosures in ads that clearly state whether or not they offer abortion.”
The spokesperson added that the company was always looking for ways to improve results to help people find what they’re looking for, or understand if what they’re looking for isn’t available.
The CCDH said Google labeled ads for anti-abortion clinics that read, “Doesn’t offer abortions,” but their placement at the top of results pages was still an issue.
“When people search for information or services related to their sexual and reproductive health, Google sends them to sites that users expect to contain robust, scientific, evidence-based information about healthcare, but they actually contain ideologically driven opinions and misguided views. information,” says CCDH. CEO Imran Ahmed said in a statement to Insider.