WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) wrote to Google CEO Sundar Pichai demanding answers on Google’s apparent attempts to throttle the online ads and reach of pregnancy resource centers.
Senator Hawley wrote, “I am concerned that, in the name of providing ‘clarity’ in search results, your company is deliberately limiting pregnancy resource centers’ outreach efforts. By doing so, Google has joined the far left’s campaign to punish pregnancy resource centers, following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization earlier this year.”
The letter in full reads:
Dear Mr. Pichai:
As part of their mission, pregnancy resource centers in my home state of Missouri seek to reach women considering abortion, in order to offer both alternatives to abortion and support during and after their pregnancies. That outreach takes a number of forms, including online ad campaigns focused on a number of abortion-related search terms.
But recently, your company appears to have throttled that outreach. Following steep declines in online traffic to their sites, they sought further information—and documentation provided to my office indicates that some of their ads now “aren’t eligible to show for keywords that relate to restricted products or services.” To be clear, those are your company’s words, not mine. I am concerned that, in the name of providing “clarity” in search results, your company is deliberately limiting pregnancy resource centers’ outreach efforts.
By doing so, Google has joined the far left’s campaign to punish pregnancy resource centers, following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization earlier this year. When those attacks first began to materialize, 17 state Attorneys General wrote to you to stress that “Google’s search results must not be subject to left-wing political pressure, which would actively harm women seeking essential assistance.”
Yet your company doesn’t seem to have heeded that warning. Just two months ago, Sen. Mark Warner bragged that Democrats had successfully partnered with Google: as he put it, “Soon, those who search for ‘abortion clinics near me’ will only see facilities that have been verified to provide abortions in the local search box on Google, meaning that far fewer women will be mistakenly led to ‘crisis pregnancy centers[.]’” Apparently, numerous pregnancy resource centers across Missouri have now fallen victim to this smear campaign.
It strikes me as vanishingly unlikely that your company would impose similar restrictions on other advertisers offering “substitute goods.” And the consequences of this unequal treatment will be grim: mothers and infants deterred from accessing crucial support in their time of need. That outcome is unacceptable.
Please provide my office with responses to the following questions as soon as possible:
1. Has Google adopted a general policy restricting the range of advertising keywords available to pregnancy resource centers, or other organizations that seek to reach individuals considering abortion by offering relevant alternatives to the procedure in question?
2. When and how often are individual organizations seeking to target abortion-related keywords required to undergo Google’s “certification” process?
I look forward to your reply.
United States Senator