In the wake of Roe v. Wade‘s reversal earlier this year, Yelp has implemented a new policy that flags so-called crisis pregnancy centers’ misleading, often medically inaccurate services. Now, users receive the following alert whenever clicking such a business: “Consumer Notice: This is a Crisis Pregnancy Center. Crisis Pregnancy Centers typically provide limited medical services and may not have licensed medical professionals onsite.” The new warning expands upon the company’s 2018 reclassification of anti-abortion clinics as “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” or “Faith-based Crisis Pregnancy Center,” and aims to curb ideologically biased medical misinformation as women’s reproductive rights continue to be curbed across the country.
[Related: What science tells us about abortion bans.]
“It’s well-reported that crisis pregnancy centers do not offer abortion services, and it’s been shown that many provide misleading information in an attempt to steer people seeking abortion care to other options,” Yelp’s VP of User Operations, Noorie Malik, wrote in a press release this morning. “With this new consumer notice we’re aiming to further protect consumers from the potential of being misled or confused.”
Crisis centers are often billed as equivalent alternatives to abortion care providers. In actuality they are frequently and surreptitiously run by religious, pro-life groups and organizations. Although they may provide some services such as STI testing, pregnancy tests, and ultrasounds, they are explicitly designed to actively prevent a pregnant person from getting an abortion. Methods often include disseminating misinformation, offering manipulative counseling, and delaying services until the patient has passed a state’s deadline for undergoing abortions legally.
In addition to flagging established crisis pregnancy centers’ particularly insidious brand of pro-life peddling, Malik stated that the company will continue to investigate business listings’ websites, social media presence, and information submitted directly to Yelp in order to most accurately classify these businesses. Yelp reports that it has proactively evaluated almost 33,500 pages this year alone, resulting in nearly 470 reclassifications.
Yelp’s newest efforts to curb people’s often accidental redirection to these crisis centers is certainly commendable, but the larger Big Tech ecosystem is still lacking a cohesive and effective strategy to further combat virulently pro-life agendas. Google, for example, has a history of frequently offering pro-life clinic ads whenever someone searches for abortion-related care. Meanwhile, Facebook recently cooperated with Nebraska law enforcement by providing them with private direct messages between a mother and teenager daughter who planned and carried out an at-home abortion deemed illegal by the state.
Despite well-established history of offering extremely limited and inaccurate medical care (often from employees with little-to-no medical training), an Associated Press report earlier this year revealed that nearly $89 million in states’ budgets have been allocated to crisis and “family planning” centers in 2022.