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Republican attorneys general put Google on notice as YouTube cracks down on abortion 'misinformation'

Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

More than a dozen Republican state attorneys general are warning Google that discriminating against pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in search results or on platforms like Google Maps could result in investigations or possible lawsuits. The warning comes about a month after Democratic lawmakers demanded that Google purge pro-life groups from search results for reproductive health care and suppress "misinformation" allegedly promoted by these organizations.

In a letter led by Kentucky Attorney Genera Daniel Cameron and Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, a total of 17 state attorneys general promised that if Google bowed to pressure from the left to censor pro-life groups, they would "act swiftly to protect American consumers from this dangerous axis of corporate and government power."

"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," the attorneys general wrote to Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Thursday.

The letter came in response to another letter from Democratic members of Congress sent in June that urged Google to act against "anti-abortion fake clinics or crisis pregnancy centers," asking the company to de-list these organizations from search results and Google Maps.

The GOP attorneys general also cited recent comments made by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), in which she said that crisis pregnancy centers need to be "shut down all around the country."

These demands have not gone unheard. Earlier this month, Google announced that it will delete location history for anyone visiting abortion sites or other medical sites to protect their privacy after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. And Google's subsidiary YouTube has since announced new policies to crack down on misinformation surrounding abortion.

“Starting today and ramping up over the next few weeks, we will remove content that provides instructions for unsafe abortion methods or promotes false claims about abortion safety under our medical misinformation policies,” YouTube tweeted Thursday.

"Like all of our policies on health/medical topics, we rely on published guidance from health authorities. We prioritize connecting people to content from authoritative sources on health topics, and we continuously review our policies & products as real world events unfold," the company added.

YouTube said it would also launch "an information panel" to provide users with "context and information from local and global health authorities under abortion-related videos and above relevant search results."

Google did not immediately respond when contacted to clarify whether claims made by pro-life groups about the risks of abortion procedures would violate the policy against "false claims about abortion safety," as pro-choice activists and Democrats allege.

The Republican attorneys general said that political pressure exerted on Google to go after pro-life groups is "gallingly un-American."

"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. It is the opposite of how a pluralistic society that values diversity of viewpoints must operate if it is to survive," the letter states.

"Complying with these demands would constitute a grave assault on the principle of free speech," the attorneys general said.

They urged Google to ensure that all users are provided "unbiased access to information."

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