Review website Yelp will flag pregnancy centers that do not offer abortions with prominently displayed consumer notices.
Yelp says the warnings will protect abortion seekers from misleading listings.
The new warning will note that these pregnancy centers, which are frequently religiously affiliated, “typically provide limited medical services and may not have licensed medical professionals onsite.”
“Yelp has a consistent track record of supporting access to reproductive healthcare for our employees, underserved communities and our users,” said Noorie Malik, the company’s vice president of User Operations, in a statement on Aug. 23. “Over the past several months, as the fate of abortion rights hung in the balance, we’ve increased our efforts to protect our users and provide them with access to the information they’re looking for, which includes better matching them with reproductive health services that actually offer abortions when they are searching for abortion services and making it less likely they will see crisis pregnancy centers that don’t.”
The company’s goal is to decrease the likelihood of a person looking for an abortion provider to see anti-abortion pregnancy centers in their search results, per AP News. The new policy went into immediate effect.
Malik told Axios that “crisis pregnancy centers” can be “misleading” in nature. Critics of the organization say they counsel women considering abortion to go through with their pregnancies.
“It has always felt unjust to me that there are clinics in the U.S. that provide misleading information or conduct deceptive tactics to steer pregnant people away from abortion care if that’s the path they choose to take,” Malik said
The San Fransico-based company began separating tens of thousands of “crisis pregnancy centers” and “faith-based crisis pregnancy centers” from clinics that offer abortions in 2018. The company reports that approximately 470 businesses’ pages were recategorized in this manner by moderators during 2022.
“We take transparency seriously, especially around sensitive healthcare decisions,” the company stated. “These updates further demonstrate Yelp’s commitment to maintain the trust and safety of our users, and quality and integrity of the information we provide them.”
The company’s announcement follows an effort last week by the Alphabet Workers Union to get Google to remove any listings for pregnancy centers that do not offer abortions.
In a petition signed by roughly 650 Google employees, the union requested the tech platform fix “misleading search results related to abortion services by removing results for fake abortion providers.” This includes “no longer working with publishers of disinformation related to abortion services who violate AdSense’s publishers policies related to unreliable and harmful claims about a major health crisis.”
“We must protect all our users from the misleading ‘pregnancy crisis centers’ masquerading as legitimate abortion clinics,” the AWU wrote on Twitter. “They’re using Google’s ads services to mislead users seeking abortions. It’s a devastating betrayal of our users that must end.”
The Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research division of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, estimated there are more than 2,700 crisis pregnancy centers in the United States. The centers typically provided limited medical services, such as pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, as well as services such as counseling and parenting classes. The center frequently provides other material resources to expectant mothers such as clothes or diapers.
Additionally, the institute said there are more than 5,300 federally funded health clinics that provide comprehensive care to vulnerable populations and advertise women’s health services.
“Women have real choices,” notes a map of the clinics’ locations on the organization’s website. “There are 14 women’s health and pregnancy centers for every Planned Parenthood.”