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17 states warn Google about censoring pro-life women’s clinics

Google is being threatened with a lawsuit by 17 states if it censors pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in search results.

A coalition of 17 attorneys general are organizing an anti-trust investigation against the tech giant and it comes after Google-owned YouTube also announced it will begin deleting videos that question the safety of abortion.

The attorneys general of Virginia and Kentucky, Jason Miyares and Daniel Cameron, respectively, are leading the group, which sent a letter to Google on July 21.

The letter defends the work of crisis pregnancy centers, noting such centers often provide services such as free ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and parenting and prenatal education classes. It also argues that “at least some” Google users who search for information about abortion expect to find information about alternatives.

They wrote that if the company complies with “this inappropriate demand” to “bias” its search results, their offices would respond by investigating whether there had been any violation of antitrust or religious discrimination laws. They also pledged to consider whether new legislation would help “protect consumers and markets.”

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said he joined the effort because he did not want to see Google succumb to political pressure.

The AGs’ joint correspondence was in response to Democrats pressuring Google to censor or delete information posted by pro-life women’s clinics.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Congresswoman Elissa Slotnick’s (D-Mich.) June 17 letter asking what steps Google CEO Sundar Pichai will take to limit the appearance of anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers in Google search results when users search for “abortion clinics” or “abortion pills.”

“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,” Warner and Slotnik wrote. “If Google must continue showing these misleading search results and in Google Maps, the results should at the very least be appropriately labeled.”

An additional 12 Senators and nine members of Congress, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), signed the letter.

“Senator Warner believes that users who search for “abortion services” should receive results that are relevant to their searches,” said Valeria Rivadeneira, a Warner spokesperson. “Crisis pregnancy centers—which routinely misinform and mislead clients about their reproductive health—make every effort to appear in these search results in order to deceive individuals into thinking they offer a full range of reproductive health services.”

Rivadeneira added that Warner has not yet received a response to his June 17 communication to Google and that Google should apply appropriate labels to all organic search and map results.

Curtis Hill, former Attorney General of Indiana, said the cadre of Democratic politicians want Google to act as an arm of the government in suppressing information.

“It’s a typical sidestep that some government officials try to create, and we’ve seen it in other areas,” he said. “So, it’s highly appropriate for the state’s attorneys general to call it for what it is…possible antitrust violations for which they would face sanctions.”

Because Google operates in all their states, the company falls under the jurisdiction of each AG’s consumer advocacy responsibilities.

“They have the right to investigate companies that are operating within their state on information that consumers are being duped or otherwise are having difficulty being treated fairly,” Hill told The Epoch Times.

He commended his former colleagues for demanding to know whether Google intends to comply with the request made by members of the Senate and Congress.

“I’d want to know if the algorithms had been changed by a particular date and if any differences or distinctions seem to be in compliance with the request that was made,” Hill added. “It’s been suggested that some of the searches be limited. So, I would want to see the searches.”

–Metro Voice and wire services